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When to give up writing

Jane Friedman has a somewhat topical post up entitled “How Long Should You Keep Trying To Get Published?” (which in turn is a reprint of an article in Writer’s Digest from 2011) which seems rather relevant in this week of my trying and doing and such. Friedman gives a nice self evaluation checklist that seemed to hit the nail right on the head, so if you’re like me and have occasional bouts of wondering if you should throw in the towel (I did that once. Thank goodness I have friends who are smarter than me), check out her evaluation. The kindest piece of advice of course comes at the end:

…I suggested that it might be nice if someone could tell us if we’re wasting our time trying to get traditionally published.

Here’s a little piece of hope: If your immediate thought was, I couldn’t stop writing even if someone told me to give up, then you’re much closer to publication than someone who is easily discouraged.

I can say that despite today’s rejection slip in my inbox, I’m not at the embittered, poor-me state. Not yet. I recognize still that in order to be published, you have to have actually written and submitted enough to warrant those random feelings of “the world is against me.” Despite my unchequed ego, I am very much still in the “needs to write more and try harder” phase.

Check out Jane’s column here. Enjoy!

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  1. Jamie Todd Rubin

    I come from Isaac Asimov’s school of writing, which boggles at the thought of ever giving up. Why give up something you love to do, just because you aren’t selling stories? That would be like giving up watching baseball just because I didn’t make the majors.

    I think better advice–at those times you feel like giving in the towel–is to stop trying to write to be published, and go back to writing for the pure joy of creating stories. You might be surprised how publishable the results become when you are really having fun. 🙂

    • mcummings

      I don’t disagree. I will say, its one of those slippery slopes you don’t realize you’re on until the gradient becomes too steep. The trick is in remembering (or as the case might be, getting reminded) that the slope is even there.

      As for Asimov, he may have boggled at the thought, but he understood the feeling 😉
      “Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil – but there is no way around them.” Yesterday’s rejection was only a laceration because it took so long in coming (if that makes any sense) – there was a false sense of potential, not that the story necessarily deserved it.

      This is far too serious for a Saturday morning, though – next thing you know, I’ll be commenting on politics or BBQ.

  2. eemoxam

    I absolutely love your short story rejection meter! What a great idea. Never give up, that one acceptance makes it all worth while.

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