I Don’t Know Who Needs to Hear This (It’s Me), But You Should Keep Pitching into the Void
The value of perseverance and the eventual growth of resilience
2020 was a tough year for pretty much everyone, and I’m no exception. While I was lucky enough not to lose my job or anyone I love to Covid (yet…my parents are really trying it), I did suffer some serious health problems, plenty of mental health and body issues, and a lot of writing rejection.
But that last thing was a direct result of one of the best elements of 2020: my newfound perseverance. I’ve been terrified of rejection – and its arguably worse sibling, radio silence – for years. Despite having a traditionally-published book under my belt, I’ve been convinced since moving back to the States that my writing will never find a home
I can’t accurately express how much these past seven months have changed me, but here’s an incomplete list of benefits: I’ve learned a TON about different kinds of freelance writing and what various publications are looking for; I’ve grown new writing muscles in my brain, including a baby one for humor writing; I feel a renewed inspiration and excitement for writing, to the point that my husband may be questioning his love of my passion as he spends more and more time alone with the cat; and I’ve developed something I used to think I’d never be able to develop: real, honest-to-god resilience. As in, rejections (mostly) don’t feel personal anymore, to me or even to my writing.
I have a better understanding of the purpose of these pieces I’m sending out, and when they’re not right for an editor I truly believe that’s exactly it: they’re not right for that editor. Not because the writing is terrible, or I’m terrible, or I should go hide under a rock and never pitch anything again. On the contrary, I should pitch it somewhere else. See where it might stick.
And the perseverance that has both led to and grown from that attitude is responsible for the small flush of good news that came my way at the end of the year. One of my favorite essays, my darling of the past few years, was accepted by the Heartland Society of Women Writers and will publish in March, another essay close to my heart was published in HerStry, and a pitch I sent to The Good Trade was commissioned in December and will hopefully go live early this year.
If I’d let my doubts get the better of me and given up, none of those things would have happened; hopefully (if I keep pushing this year and the next and the next…) my ratio of acceptance to rejection will only improve.
So I know writers say this all the time to each other, but I also believe most of us can never hear it enough: KEEP GOING. They can’t reject your work if you never submit it, but they also can’t accept it.
What I’m Reading:
I frequently have an audiobook and an e/print book going at the same time. Right now I’m listening to Party of Two, by Jasmine Guillory, and reading Fairest, by Meredith Talusan. Both are wonderful, and I love the contrast of fun, indulgent, lovable romance (Party of Two) against thoughtful, lyrical, important memoir (Fairest). I highly recommend both.
A Random Joy:
My husband and I have been doing a lot of cooking together in these past few weeks, and not only have we turned out to be a good team in the kitchen but we’ve made some seriously good food. Our first ever beef wellington had us quivering with intimidation, but it turned out almost perfectly! A real joy and a treat that gifted us with days of excellent leftovers.