A parcel, 100 rejections and my writing year in review

A parcel

I got home a couple of days ago to find an exciting parcel waiting for me. I opened it and stars and planets fell out! (…in sticker form). It was the inaugural issue of Soft Star Magazine! I don’t often post pictures of myself online but here I am holding up the page with my very first story published in an actual physical magazine. It’s printed on paper and everything!

This was a lovely way to end my writing year. Thank you to Miranda, the editor.

You can read the whole story here.

Year 2

This was my second full year of submitting pieces to magazines. I started in 2020, but only in the last few months of that year. I got an acceptance from Bear Creek Gazette for “Green-fingered Growths”. Then BCG Editor, Stuart Buck was kind enough to let me turn that story into a series that ran all the way through 2021, The epilogue of that series, A Postcard from Mr Brimley, was my first acceptance of 2022.

Although I enjoyed writing the series and having a focus, I decided to let it finish with the ending I had planned. I didn’t want to try and keep the story going beyond the point where I had good ideas for it. I also wanted to force myself to apply to other lit mags. Given my covid brain fog, it was amazing that I wrote the seven-part story and sent it off to Stuart. I find admin particularly difficult and didn’t have the brain power, nor the “spoons” of energy, to approach many other magazines.

100 rejections

I set myself the goal of getting 100 rejections in 2022. This is a idea I read about on this quite famous blog.

The fear of rejection is a big deal and can dissuade a new writer from putting themselves out there. But if you are actually aiming to get a certain number of rejections, you greet each one as progress toward your goal with joy rather than self-criticism. (In theory. Some may still sting more than others.)

Alas, I did not hit 100 rejections. I did not even reach 100 submissions! But I did learn to get over my fear of rejection and start building a habit of sending stuff out.

My year in writing

I sent out 73 submissions this year. I got 9 acceptances and 1 had one story shortlisted. 51 were rejected. The rest are still “pending”.

The previous year I sent out only 27 submissions and the year before that I sent out 3. I take this as a sign that my abilities for admin are returning a little. However, I remember, only recently, making several attempts to send a piece, failing to fill all the right boxes on the form, trying again and sending the wrong piece with the title of another story and so on until I gave up. I am certainly not out of the woods. I am still housebound after three years. But I won’t go into detail about my long covid experience here. This is about my writing year!

Here is the list of acceptances:

  1. Bear Creek Gazette – Green-fingered Growths Epilogue: A Postcard from Mr Brimley (last in series)
  2. Bureau of Complaint – A story breakdown for a completely fictional story called, “Why is everything so fucking difficult?”
  3. Spare Parts – An American Mermaid in Paris
  4. Story Nook – On my way to work one cold clear autumn morning, I see a man sitting in a bin.
  5. The Hallowzine – A free ghost with every cup
  6. Bear Creek Gazette – (TO BE PUBLISHED 2023)
  7. Isele magazine – Life is what happens when you’re busy making other sandwiches
  8. Soft Star Magazine – The location was perfect but there was too much space
  9. Pure Slush – (TO BE PUBLISHED 2023)
  10. The Molotov Cocktail – The Snow has Claws (SHORTLISTED)

This year has been about trying to spread my wings a bit and see where else I might go. I feel I’ve succeeded with a range of magazine titles taking my stories. They have included publications geared toward flash fiction of any sort, sci-fi, comedy, horror and, much to my surprise, literary magazines. I mean, all Lit Mags are literary. It’s in the name. What I suppose I mean is… non-genre.  

It’s easier for me to write funny, rather than about feelings and drama and so on. The surprising side-effect of trying of hit a submission target is that I have had to send out pieces that were a bit more earnest than I am usually comfortable with… and people liked them!

I aim to investigate this further in 2023

The future

I’ll keep this brief as this post is a long one already.

I’d like to try again to get 100 rejections in 2023 but I also have a couple of big projects I want to work on. The first is to return to the first draft of a novel I wrote before I got covid and edit it so it is at least readable. The second is to do a blog on my “long covid journey” now that I am (hopefully) capable of writing about it.

I am fully prepared for the fact that it might be too much for me to deal with at this point. My recovery is always longer, slower and more random than I would like. But we will see.

Thanks

Finally, I want to say thanks to all the editors and slush pile readers and designers who had anything to do with my stories getting out in the world, and those who read and gave nice feedback along with a rejection and also those that rejected with a simple “no thanks”! Sometimes, it’s nice to just get to the point!

I also want to thank anyone who read a story, commented on it or liked it. Thanks to all the Writers HQ gang who have been my internet friends since I got ill. And thanks to YOU. Yes, YOU. Thanks for reading thus far. Not long to go now.

I am always amazed when anyone says anything nice about something I have written. Writing is its own reward and, for me, a way of proving my brain still works. It is always an unexpected gift when someone else likes it. Thanks.

Happy New Year!

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