How to Forget

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Seeing the title, you might wonder what it has to do with writing. After all, there are many things we all want to forget – 9/11, the pandemic, past personal trauma and any number of cringeworthy moments from our lives. Writing often serves as a catharsis and helps us gain closure on all these aspects that we would prefer would slip away from our memories.

But what I am really talking about here is writers forgetting their submissions and especially the rejections so it doesn’t hold them back.

First things first, its easier said than done. Writers need to let go of the many expectations tied to the submissions. I had written an entire article around this for the Brevity Blog stated Submission Amnesia. The blog post deals precisely with this kind of forgetting. Success stories from winning writers often mention how they had submitted a piece to a contest and had forgotten all about it, until it turned out they had won it. The whole thing was a fantastic pleasant surprise to them.

As for me, leave alone forgetting a submission, I tend to obsess over them until one fine day I receive a rejection, and then I breathe a sigh of relief at achieving closure for that particular submission. I tuck it away in the rejection folder, and begin the process anew.

As writers we attach a lot of value and importance to our submissions. For us a submission may be personal. We invest a lot of ourselves in our work. But for editors every story is just one of many that they receive. They may still feel a pang when they send a rejection but they are not as heavily invested in our work as we are. The best way that I’ve discovered, if not early on, but in good time, is to understand that submission is always a numbers game. When you have tons of submissions in the queue pending for responses, it is very difficult to remember any one particular entry.

A submission to a literary journal or a contest entry might hold more importance and value to the writer. Another way to stop yourself from obsessing over it, apart from submitting widely, is to continue writing and have multiple projects at hand.  Often, I am working on multiple pieces of fiction simultaneously, such as may be 2-3 flash pieces, 1 short story, and another blog post due the following week or month. This keeps me distracted enough that my thoughts don’t stray to the submissions queue in my various sheets or online systems.

Do you obsess over your submissions? What are your tricks for either forgetting them or staying sane while you await a response? Let me know in the comments!

5 comments

  1. I obsess! 100%! And I use the same distraction/multiple stories at once tactics as you, Gargi. Another thing that I try to practice is constantly and actively lowering my expectations. This is good for all of life but I try to notice when Ive entered fantasy land and just self-talk my way into the reality that my fantasy is just that, there’s lots of competition, it’s okay if it doesn’t work out this time. Also my husband reminds me, say if one of my stories makes it to a longlist, that in this market, a longlist is basically winning because if there were hundreds ofsubmissions and mine floated to the top 20 , after that it’s just personal preference or whatever. So if I get longlisted I tell myself that I won and I repeat move on move on move on to myself every time the short list tiptoes into my thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one who obsesses! Though it’s reduced a lot of late. But I love your tip about considering it a win even if longlisted! A great way to move on! Thanks for sharing!

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