It’s important for writers to write and submit. The submitting part is especially important. L. Timmel Duchamp stressed this to us at Clarion West. At a certain point, you have to let go of a story and send it out. The submitting process is important not just in terms of your writing career, but psychologically, too.
When I’m not actively submitting, I don’t feel like a writer. I start to feel as if my writing time is selfish, and that I should be spending that time cleaning house and whatnot.
Submitting makes me feel part of the writing world, and that my writing process is moving forward. I might be sitting still at my desk, but my stories are moving around. Someone’s reading them besides me, and I’m going to get feedback on whether that story works or not – even if that feedback is just a form rejection letter.
|A sampling from my rejectomancy box|
After several years and many submissions, I thought I was immune to rejection depression. I decided to aim higher. I applied for some big opportunities that had the potential to change my life so that I could focus on writing full-time for a year or two: fellowships, grants, residencies.
I was rejected. And it stung worse than my first rejection letter.
So I opened up a Word document and wrote “Encouragement” in the header. I even used a swirly, crazy font that I would never use in a professional document. I gave myself full permission to do some ego-stoking for the space of one Word file.
|My Encouragement List|
What have I put in this document so far? Words from critique partners pointing out strengths in my writing. Nudges from professors to keep writing. Positive feedback from journals and contests, even when I was ultimately not accepted for publication.
I don’t want to spend too much time telling myself I’m a good writer. I never want to get to the point where I think that my writing doesn’t need any revision – that everything I write is perfect.
But to keep going, I need these words of encouragement to turn to when I feel like I’m a horrible writer. They’re the food I’m squirreling away for winter days, the lean times between acceptances. Because I know that the most important part to becoming a good writer is to keep going. Not just writing, but finishing and ushering my stories out the door.