At the tail-end of last year and the beginning of this year, I challenged fear. I told myself, “You will submit your work to prominent literary magazines, online journals, and poetry hosting sites. You can and you will.” I did this. I stepped out of my reserved comfort zone and decided to dive into the shaky waters of the publishing world again. I found out three things: I am a “polished writer,” I have what it takes, but my “work isn’t quite what we’re looking for at the moment,” and I have a “unique voice, distinctive, however, the work submitted is just not a good fit” for this magazine.
I also found out that my poetry, although denied by a couple of literary journals is hosted far more than my essays and non-fiction work. Because I made the decision to submit my work once again for consideration to several entities, three of my poems have been published. I would be lying if I said I was not elated by this, but poetry does not draw in the big bucks.
I have a goal set for myself and that goal is to write one to three articles that will turn heads, make eyes water, become key pieces of conversations for years to come, and warrant a decent amount of money with each article published. I want to do this in hopes of having writing become closer to a full-time profession for me in the near future. Even if I do not succeed in having it take over as my main source of income, I want to at least decrease my normal full-time work-week by four hours each day.
On average, with some of the big-name magazines and online journals, a writer is paid $0.50 to $1.00 per word submitted. If those articles are anywhere from nine to sixteen hundred words, a significant payout would be issued.
Two of my essays were denied by a prominent partnered publication here on Medium. I love this particular magazine. I read it religiously. I see what is published and my work falls in line with most of the articles there, so I am not submitting and have not submitted something that does not meet their requirements.
After receiving both rejection letters, I started to question myself — my ability as a long-form writer. The first question was, “Am I losing my spark?” The second question was, “Is my work not likable enough for even a chance at being published in this magazine?” I sat with those questions and I worried over them.
It was easy to slip — I almost fell . . .
I came close to finding myself back in the grimy holes of depression because I felt unworthy and unheard. I wondered more than I probably should have about whether or not my work was actually read or if my profile and credentials were reviewed and considered. I mourned the rejections, tweaked both articles, and self-published them here to Medium. I refused to let any tears fall that welled up in my eyes over my hard work and tireless efforts.
I came close to finding myself back in the grimy holes of depression because I felt unworthy and unheard.
“Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.” — Marquis de Condorcet
I mindlessly started comparing my writing to the works of others that were published. I skimmed and scanned them, read and re-read them, and tried to pinpoint where I was going wrong with my own submitted articles. Then, I remembered — I am my own person. I have my own voice. And I thought . . .
You just need to get louder but do so with class.
I remembered that I should also not take it personally, but when you spend a significant amount of your downtime fine-tuning and editing your work, then sending the drafts to your editing and journalist friends for their notes and tips, it is hard not to take a rejection personally. Add to this the fact that you “stepped out on faith” and “took a chance” and challenged fear, the blows hit a little harder than they should.
I opened up my mind and heart and I asked myself, “Is it the rejections or is it who your work is being rejected by?” I decided that I was bothered so badly by these two rejections because of who bore the rejections. When there is an opportunity to possibly have one’s work hosted by a major publishing brand, the excitement that comes with submitting is indescribable. The natural high for me at that time, cannot be explained — not in common words.
As I stated in an earlier article, I am being gentle with myself. I did exactly what I planned to do and in the process, did have some work published. I challenged my fear of reaching out to publishers and even though a couple of them has knocked me down, I have not been knocked out.
I will save my tears for something bigger — something heavier-hitting. I won’t waste them on things outside of my control. I keep telling myself this. I have been trying to make it my personal mantra for a few months now.
“Is it the rejections or is it who your work is being rejected by?”
I do plan to continue submitting other essays to a few different entities. I still feel as though I have much more fight left in me and that an article of mine could be picked up sooner than later. I am claiming it. I believe it. I am not a person who backs down all too easily, but I do know when my steps have been ordered and when a break is necessary.
Fear will not hold me back — neither will rejection.
“I believe that my skill at taking ordinary words and using them to provoke thought or stir emotion is a divine gift that I should utilize more often, if not for profit, then to free my spirit.” — Darryl Brown