Friday, April 17, 2009

The Rejection Goal!

So in this post, I want to set me some personal goals, and sum them up with one in particular.

I've written and published a good amount of nonfiction, but when I write fiction I still enjoy significant insecurity. Fiction and nonfiction writing exercise different muscles and I've used the fiction muscle far less, at least in my adult life. As a result, one of my tendencies is to get a story down on paper, send it out here and there for consideration, or maybe not (if I happen to conveniently forget), then move on and ignore the story or piece of writing entirely. I have ONLY published one story in my fiction writing life (in a college zine), so sending out my fiction is still kind of difficult.

But I do know this: No writer ever published any work by keeping it locked in a cute little hope chest, stuffed in a filing cabinet or filed away on a hard drive somewhere. We write to get our work out there, to have it read by others, and digested or enjoyed.

So I'm going to flip my writing goals around, starting today.

In the past, my goals have always geared toward the writing itself: I WILL finish this story or that chapter, this scene or that article, this screenplay or that novel etc...on down the line...

No, this time I am setting a REJECTION GOAL. You read that right. I want to get rejected. Maybe you've heard of this idea before, I don't recall where I saw it, but I think it's a good one. This concept conveniently flips the whole process around in my head. And yes, I don't really want to get rejected, but it is part of the publishing business, a truism I learned when I became an nonfiction editor several years ago - rejection is what happens, nothing personal, just a reality with which EVERY writer must contend.

So I'm going to send out THREE stories by May 15, earlier if possible, to twenty different publications each. That's sixty publications total. Print publications or online publications, doesn't matter. I just created a little spread sheet to keep track, and the goal is this:

RACK UP 50 Rejections by JULY 15, 2009.
The other ten may take longer to reject, who knows?

FINALLY: While I am waiting for rejections to mount up in May and June, I will begin the fourth editing pass on my novel.

So how about a thought for today: Can we all agree on something? Let's each send out that piece of writing that we've been working on . . . you know, the one that's basically finished, but you keep nitpicking the adverbs?

Also, I'd be curious to know, do you have any similar goals for your writing, but more specifically, for getting your writing out there in front of other people?


Robert Treskillard said...

I've got two more drafts of my WIP and then I'm planning on blitzing as many likely agents as I can.

I'm still going to make the queries personal, though, and there's not that many agents open to Christian fantasy---so maybe my list won't be too long.

We'll see.

Thanks for the encouragement to embrace rejection as part of the process!

Eve said...

I'm still on the, "...I've got to get this on the computer and out of my notebooks...." stage.

But I will keep this in mind. Is it supposed to make it easier? What if you get 51 rejections? Will you be crushed?

Alexander Field said...

Robert, I love that, query fever!

Eve, If I get 51 rejections, I guess I will have to start working on landing 50 more rejections! : )

Lori Benton said...

After many years away, I've taken up rejection collecting again. This time its agents. I started my new collection at the conference earlier this month.

Alexander Field said...

Lori, I'll be tackling that one soon as well - good luck! : )

Eve said...


Brandon said...

Man, I've got about six finished short stories on my desktop, another three completed stories that I'm not done tinkering with, and about another five short stories that I started and haven't finished.

But since I'm working on novels as my priority, I just all the shorts on the backburner.

I wish more magazines accepted simultaneous's no fun waiting six months to a year to find out if a story gets accepted or not...

But I do have good news! One of my short stories will be appearing in May at Residential Aliens!

Valerie Comer said...

At Forward Motion we run an annual rejection contest. There's a points level--a certain number for rejection from a novel publisher or agent, less for a short story rejection. Rejections after a request of partials or fulls get more points, and, of course, acceptances garner the most!

There's a whole passel of folks in there elbowing for the most points. Quite fun.

Alexander Field said...

Brandon, that's so where I'm at! Novels are good to put on the front burner - and Congrats on the story in Residential Aliens - let us know when we can check it out!

Rejection Contest Valerie? That's fantastic, I must enter. I will be heading over there now! : )

Aly said...

Hey, Alex. I know this is an older post, but I wanted to let you know that I'm in. I've got a short story that's not quite done, and as soon as I finish up this rammity-fratchit football book, it's at the top of my list. I could use a little rejection.

Alexander Field said...

Rammity-Fratchit Football Book is right Aly. This book has been crazy (thanks by the way), but we could all use a little rejection right? Get that story out there! (I'd love to read it by the way)...