Tag: rejection

Ten reasons against and one reason for

Why should you not submit a story to an editor?

1. The story will be rejected.
2. The editor will hate the story and tell you how bad it is.
3. The editor will hate the story and tell everyone how bad it is.
4. Everyone will now hate the story.
5. All the haters will find your house and tell you in person how much they hate the story.
6. You will have done something/everything wrong in the submission process (wrong editor name, wrong email address, wrong version of story, wrong story, wrong wrongness done wrongly).
7. Your stories are unreadable/unimportant/trite/empty/too much/too little/too long/too short/too hard/too easy/too impossible/too predictable…
8. Real writers thrill to the feel of sending their work out.
9. Lurking terrible monsters are attracted to the sound of a button being clicked, an envelope being licked.
10. The editor will accept it and then people will READ it.

This is only scratching the surface, right? I mean, there are far more reasons not to submit than there are writers, and anxiety tells us that there are so many writers in the world that we shouldn’t even bother, so, yeah, that’s a lot of reasons to turn off the computer, shred the envelopes, and forget all about submitting a story. Trust me, I can outplay anyone when it comes to a game of Why Bother.

But there is one simple reason to hit send, and it has to do with how the sunlight catches your eye in the afternoon, and the way the scent of the ocean wrinkles your nose, and the sweetest voice you’ve ever heard, and the most surprising thing you’ve ever tasted, and how a bird feels perched in the palm of your hand. It’s all about the time you’ve spent daydreaming, and the time you’ve spent writing, and the windows you’ve looked through, and the pattern of freckles on the hands of the woman who sits across from you on the train, or the trains you dream of taking but never have. It’s in the fear and anger and desperation and need and curiosity and sorrow and belief and love, oh yes, the love, that you put into what you write.

There are other reasons, sure, but can we start with this one?

You should submit a story to an editor because you get just one go round as yourself in this life, and that story, that novel, that poem that you put your truth into contains something real of you, of that life lived only by you, and it deserves its shot at being heard.

I believe in you.


The writers I know love to write to the point that they will fill all the nooks and corners of their lives with writing. They will work full time jobs and write late at night, or on weekends when the weather is perfect and everyone else is out adventuring. They’ll wake up at five to sneak in time before the kids are up, or skip lunch, or breakfast, or both.

There are times in life when I start to think too hard about rejection, and failure, and question what I do. It’s easy to do, and once there, it’s easy to stop seeing a piece of writing as something alive and full of potential. There are so many more reasons not to write than there are to do so.

This is what I do when that happens. I think of campfires. I think of all the stories people tell around a fire, or in the backseat of a taxi, or to their children before bedtime. I think about how humans are driven to tell stories, and the many ways we do so. I think about the subterranean world of writers, their silent endless striving to share the lives happening inside their heads.

I think about tribes. I think about my own, about the family members and friends who have patiently read everything I’ve written, who have listened to the stories I tell as closely as if we were seated around a campfire of our own, the firelight flickering, the stars overhead.

Storytellers need tribes. But our tribes don’t need to number in the millions. Just a few faces looking back at us through the firelight may be more than enough to make the whole thing worthwhile.