If You Want to Be a Fiction Writer, Understand the Stats + Then Ignore Them

Once you've published a few stories in some good print journals, you realize that you have to go through the same process of submitting, waiting, dreaming + getting rejected, each + every year. So, waiting for that first journal acceptance of the year can be nerve-wracking. Think of professional tennis players when they're out there on the court during a live Wimbledon match, muttering things to themselves like: His serve isn't that fast. You can totally take him. Don't forget about his backhand. Need a winner. Cross-court, maybe. Time for an ace, motherfucker.

Same thing applies to me. I go through this mind-fuck every year: Well, maybe you're not gonna get any stories accepted this year, but that's okay because last year was a good year for you + you can't fucking expect your shit to get accepted every year--that's arrogant. Maybe this will be the year you get your first book published. Sometimes, it just doesn't happen + that's okay because the important thing is, you're writing the best shit you've ever written. Don't forget: sometimes the stock market rallies right before closing. Anything can happen in publishing, don't forget that. You might get a flurry of acceptances right before the New Year.

Anyway, the point is: It doesn't always work out for you when you're a fiction writer. In fact, it usually doesn't work out for you--let me just count the rejections I've gotten just in 2010. Hold on while I look it up: Okay, 18 rejections since January, which doesn't sound bad, but that's because I still haven't heard from 41 journals. Also, I've amassed 62 rejections since last April. To put things in perspective: in 2009, I submitted 84 manuscripts (+ about 6 query letters) + I got 2 stories picked up. Now granted, those were two of the best journals yet for me, but still, look at those stats, man: 2 journals / 84 = 1/42 chance. So, to give you an idea of how fucking hard it is to erupt into this industry, when I look up the Missouri Review's submission guidelines, and they say that they accept less than 1%, to me, 1% is fucking great. I can live with a (slightly less than )1% acceptance rate, which just gives you an idea of how warped this industry is. So, the point is, understand these stats (meaning, don't expect miracles + don't expect your career as a writer to be a rapid evolution because it always happens way slower than you expect it to), but then, after you've done that, ignore the odds (because they're clearly not in your favor) + just keep writing.

If it's in you, you can't + won't stop writing--it's not even a choice. And you'll need that stubbornness to get to where you wanna be, which is somewhere.