Apparently, I’m getting older or my body has simply betrayed me this week. Instead of writing, reading and creating with a clear head, I am curled up in bed with a fever and a throat so sore I must have accidentally swallowed an entire swarm of bees.
I couldn’t write at all on Friday. And only managed to get a few hundred words done on Saturday. I caught up with my wordcount on Sunday, but they were the hardest words in 2017 so far.
Not a big setback, right? Just a few hazy days filled with feverish dreams. I still went out for a short 20-minute walk each day, because walking doesn’t need a clear head and I didn’t want to break both streaks I’d planned for 2017.
My partner offered to type the words as I dictate them, but I realised all I could do was whine about being sick and maybe hammer out a few words filled with self-pity. And that’s definitely not the aim of this streak. The aim wasn’t to get words out just for the sake of writing words. The aim was to improve. To exercise my writing muscles. And to never just stare at a blank page without eventually filling it with a scene or two.
And I’m still achieving that.
However, this small setback got me to think about other setbacks a writer experiences every now and then… rejections.
Rejections sting. In fact they downright suck. But they’re part of the process. All writers who send their work out will receive them. Some will hurt more than others.
Don’t let them discourage you. It’s not personal. It’s not about you. It might not even be about your work.
I don’t like every book I read and sometimes I don’t like a book that others seem to love. The same goes for anyone reading your work in the publishing industry. It might be good, but that doesn’t mean the person behind the desk who is paid to read it will enjoy it.
Last year I finally started to send out some of my short stories. I was motivated at first. Made a spreadsheet (always have a spreadsheet so you don’t accidentally send the same market the same story twice) and updated it regularly and whenever a story came back I send it right back out.
But then I got discouraged. I’ll be honest with you, it didn’t take much. It took a few “this is not what we’re looking for” on what I consider my best pieces and my mind automatically went to the “I can’t do this” place. It’s a dark place and while you’re there you’re not submitting and when you’re not submitting no one can accept your stories.
Setbacks happen. We get sick, deal with stress or life punches us in the gut… but we can’t succeed if we don’t try. Again and again and again.
This week, I decided to get my spreadsheet in order. Update all my submissions and carry on submitting. Wish me luck.
See you next week (hopefully without a fever)