No, No, No: Why I Crave Rejection

Ben L. Zeigler - Pyragraph

Image courtesy of Topher McCulloch.

I’m at the point where I love rejection. I crave it, I want it. I open up my email account salivating, hoping for one more big, fat “Thanks, but no thanks.” That’s the attitude I’ve been trying to cultivate. I’ve heard actors say auditioning is the job, a call-back is a success. Getting cast is wonderful but the road work is the thing, putting yourself out there is what it’s all about. For me—and I imagine this may be true for most creative types—producing is the easy part. The difficulty arises in the how and why to get work out there, seen, read, published, hell, maybe even paid for.

Please stop sending your shitty shit to us. We hate it all.

So, it’s about submission. And I don’t mean ropes and zipper mouth masks (which is cool, if that’s your thing—live and let live), I’m talking about trolling the internet for every journal, e-zine, or lit publishing co-op-thing and sending them stuff I wrote. My goal has been two rejections a week. It’s a numbers game. What if I’m an awful writer? What if no one ever publishes anything? What if I’m fooling myself and wasting my time? What if…who gives a shit? Nothing to be gained by quitting.

I’m not advocating hitting send like crazy, offering film scripts to poetry journals or erotic fiction to Christian blog sites, but I do a little research, get familiar with each journal or site, find out what they’re looking for, what they’re into, what their aesthetic is. If I have some work that fits or can be tweaked, I send it to them, because who knows who might read it, maybe that particular day whoever is editing or whoever opened the mail is in a generous mood and whatever I happened to send them hits the spot just right.

Every one of these journals, e-zines, lit sites have submission guidelines. They even make it easy for you. At the top of every home page there’s a little button for SUBMIT. Some of these places take submissions only during certain parts of the year. Others are open all the time. Some charge for submitting, but those usually pay or they have contests where you can try and win some scratch. Page lengths, formatting, content, genre restrictions, every place is a little bit different, but they put it all up there for the potential writer to follow. There’s even a simple website called Submittable that a lot of these online journals are using that tracks your submissions for you. The date, the title, where you submitted, whether the piece is in process, got accepted or declined is all right there for you to reference. This happens to be very convenient for somebody like me, who hates keeping track of shit.

The truth is I don’t know what these journals are actually looking for; hell, maybe they’re just publishing their buddies. Don’t know, don’t care. But until one of them sends me a personal email saying, “Please stop sending your shitty shit to us. We hate it all,” I’m going to keep sending them stuff. What are they going to do, sue me? No, they’ll just delete it, but anyway.

I might get slogged down in perfection with a piece. Is this good enough to submit? Should I tweak it more? Nothing I write is perfect, and it never will be. And obviously I am not the one ultimately who will decide if something is publishable or not. I can guess, I can work it, and have people read it, and get the piece as close to something polished and fine as can be, but then I have to let it go, send it out into the world to get rejected or accepted. Because they’re ain’t no percentage in quitting.

About Ben L. Zeigler

Ben L. Ziegler was born in Idaho, raised in Louisiana, and lives in Albuquerque. He writes film reaction here. He’s in a band, writes fiction, and does some acting too.

He prefers to wear black polo shirts exclusively.

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