I have had a slow two weeks with work, which is a good thing, so I have had a chance to catch up on the housework and start thinking about writing projects and things like that. I made the claim several months ago here that I wanted to be a freelance writer, but since then I have done precious little about it. This is partially because of lack of time but also partially because of a misguided focus. Before, I was hoping to get something I wrote accepted, and so I felt the sting of rejection with each "We're sorry, but..." which would lead me to want to sit back, regroup, think carefully, and start from scratch. But I feel now that this is the wrong way to go. Instead, I should approach this like someone applying for jobs -- apply for everything I possibly can, all at once. Eventually, someone will have to call.
So I am reframing my goals. Rather than hoping to have something accepted by some particular date, I am setting the lofty (for me) goal of 25 rejections by the time I turn 31.
-A response will be considered a rejection if it is stated outright (as in a rejection letter) or if a submission sits with the magazine/publisher for 4 months or more with no response at all.
-All submissions have to be sent with a genuine possibility of acceptance, no matter how remote.
Right now, here are the stats:
-2 clear rejections, one for a chapter in a nonfiction academic book relating to my thesis topic and one for a short short story. I haven't resubmitted either one but maybe now that will change. I don't know what to do with the story because I don't know if it got rejected because it is terrible or because the publication just didn't want that story at that time, or perhaps a combination of the two.
-2 things out, still up in the air -- a quick pitch to This American Life for an idea for a theme for an episode. It is really unlikely that I will hear back on that, but I had been working on the idea for over a month and just went ahead and submitted it for the heck of it, because it was an idea that wouldn't go away. The second thing is pretty much a rejection but I haven't reached the 4-month time limit nor the rejection letter yet, and that is the Query Fail which I already blogged about with great embarrassment and redness of face. (Metres. METRES!!! Aargh!)
-2 things half written and unsure where to submit them. These are the two that will be taking up my time in the next few months. I have this weird phobia while I am writing that just as I am creating a perfect article on my subject, that someone else with three times the experience, who went to private high school with the editor of the New York Times, is writing about the same thing only they are somehow including Derrida references (even though the article is about organizing your toddler's play space). As soon as the editors receive mine, probably eight days after the other author's article, the editors will sit back (they have tilty leather chairs and an office with plate glass windows overlooking Manhattan) with a brioche and espresso and rake me over the coals, and pick up the other author's article and say, "I think our choice is clear," and mine will land in the wastebasket with a metallic thud...
Or maybe that the intern who is supposed to screen the incoming queries will not like my name, or will think my idea sounds dumb even though of course the editors would LOVE it, and I will never get past that intern's desk, no matter how hard I try... my beloved piece languishing next to a balled-up post-it and some fingernail clippings... and I won't even know for sure that I am rejected until four months after I first send it... oh, hold on for a minute with me, I have to pause to cry for the imaginary fate of my future possibly-written imaginary manuscript...
I will report here my success at failure :D