What I Learned from The Drought

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You know that feeling when an acceptance email lands in your inbox, professing words of admiration and love for the wonderful piece you wrote?

Yeah, me neither. I’m not one to whine, but it does sting a little when I think of how more than four months have passed since a gleeful acceptance popped into my email inbox.

A part of the reason is that my queue of things to submit has dried up. I have sold most of the stories I wrote until last year, and haven’t written much new material. This is a good problem to have, but then I also need to step up my pace of churning out stuff.

And then when I check my Submittable queue of Declined, I always think:

Why Does Rejection Keep Teaching Me Lessons I don’t want to Learn?

Make no mistake, this has been a fantastic learning opportunity. What this period of drought has taught me:

  1. I need to inspect my pattern of submissions and make changes

Once in a while, in a bout of frustration, I send out my stories without checking in detail if my work matches the tone and aesthetic of the market. This means I land up getting rejected quite swiftly, when it could have been avoided.

  1. I shouldn’t wait for acceptances to ‘inspire’ me

Because of the draught, I have submitted precious little. The logic that kicks in for me – if my previous work hasn’t garnered an acceptance, what are the chances of this one? Or rather, what’s the point of submitting this one? This is a wrong and illogical line of thinking, and actually in the past I’ve written myself out of a submission drought just like this one by continuing to write and submit.

  1. Submissions is a numbers game.

I knew this already but the reality of it hit me with full force in the last couple of months. The fewer submissions I made, the lower the chances of acceptance until the well finally dried up.

  1. Let your heart lead you down the right path

At the beginning of this year, I was roaring to write flash fiction. I had subscribed to the newsletters, read a tonne of really short-short stories like micro-fiction and even TwitFic. I planned to write at least four of five pieces each month. What do you think really happened? Instead of all my lofty plans, I wrote 3 new short stories – one clocking in at 5,000 words, the second at just over 2,000 words and the third one which I’m still writing is already a thousand words and will be at least 3,000 words when I’m done. I did write 2 or 3 pieces of micro-fiction (under 500 words), but they desperately need the editorial red pen before I can send them anywhere.

  1. Sometimes, it’s okay to just plough through the day and let things be.

If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, its okay to just ‘be’, sometimes. I let go my goals of word counts and submissions and relaxed with my friends and family instead. I ditched the laptop and went for long walks. I am much refreshed and even if I don’t return to submitting very soon, I’ll feel happier about it when I do.

By the way, the title is a play on the below quote:

Image via Google

Do you have any tales of woe about rejections? Please share them in the comments!

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