View Full Version : Knowing your limitations

11-27-2006, 09:40 PM
Where is the line between being persistent and optimistic vs. being realistic in your publishing goals and your self-assessment as a writer?

For example, say A. is a short story writer, who wants to get his work published in what he considers "quality literary magazines." A. does
the usual for several years, submitting & receiving rejections, constantly trying to improve his work, with perhaps workshops, classes, critiques from other writers, reading books and articles on the craft, etc., etc., but is unsuccessful with his goals.

At what point does A. perhaps admit that despite his drive and commitment, he doesn't really have a talent for this, and will continue writing for his own enjoyment, but stop his publishing efforts?

I have the feeling this post isn't terribly coherent, but hopefully someone can make sense out of it. :tongue

Simon Woodhouse
11-27-2006, 10:00 PM
I would say there's no need to stop submitting. It only takes a little effort and not much money (postage costs). If you're going to write, you might as well submit. On the other hand, if the rejections are starting to take their toll, and it's affecting how much you enjoy writing, perhaps it's time to call it quits.

Cathy C
11-27-2006, 10:10 PM
I agree. Even though I've gotten some novels, articles and stories published, I regularly get rejections of ideas. That doesn't mean they're BAD ideas, but they might exist in the wrong time to be published.

Continuing to submit is only a negative thing if it BOTHERS you when you get a rejection. It means about the same to me as getting a flyer in the mail from a car dealership. It just means it's time to send the story out again, to a different venue, or a different story to the same venue. It's a zero sum. But if rejection hurts, then continuing on is only rubbing salt in an open wound.

But, admittedly, not everybody is cut out to be a published writer. It's just a plain fact. I can't ever be a figure skater. I don't have the ankle strength. I can't ski to save my soul (thankfully, that particular situation's never come up or I'd be in real trouble! :ROFL: ) Eventually, I gave up trying either of these because my enjoyment level of not doing it well diminished my enjoyment of it at all. But that's my nature. I tend to stop pushing against a wall when it obviously won't give way. I shrug and move to a different wall.

It's all based on what you want and how you perceive your own writing.

Good luck with the decision.

11-27-2006, 10:32 PM
Iím optimistic and realistic when it comes to my writing. I know my writing flaws, which need cleaning up and continous learning.

I havenít hit the publishing stage, but I canít see there being a limit in submitting. If the rejections provide any feedback, I would read them.

It also depends on how hard you want to work and how driven you are regarding your writing. You can always self-publish if you want your story out there. Good luck.

11-27-2006, 11:01 PM
With shorts, I have tiers of target publications. The top pro levels; the pro level second division; the good but bad paying level; the rest.

I start at the top and work my way down.

However, you should consider that the tier idea is not a bad one, and some editors look at the "lower divisions" to see who is published there.

I won't do publications for no pay, and I am pretty set against on-line publications, even for money, but beyond that, I work my way down until I'm in a position to work my way up.

And remember, having published credits is more important than pro-paying credits. Plus, published credits lead to pro-paying credits.

11-28-2006, 12:36 AM
The writer should keep submitting, even if its just to be a nuisance to those b-----ds who keep rejecting me, um, him! :D

11-28-2006, 01:17 AM
Maybe writer A should post some short stories on the Share Your Work forum here and see what others have to say. Could just be little things that might make the difference.

I think, ultimately, it depends on how bad you want it. As I've mentioned elsewhere (a lot), Louis L'Amour got rejected over 350 times before he got his first story accepted. And look where he is today. (Well, he's dead, but everyone reading this knows who he IS.) He just submitted, kept on writing, got enough rejections on story a, then put it away and sent story b, and so on. Perseverance is the key to success.

Linda Adams
11-28-2006, 04:40 AM
It can also take many years to learn how to write for publication. Everyone these days seems to be focused on instant success, rather than taking the time to hone their skills. After all, you don't learn to play a piano in a day or a year, but over many years; you don't learn to paint in a day or a year, but over many years--why should writing be any different.

Even with rejection, the writing effort itself isn't wasted. All it is practice and honing those skills to be better.

11-28-2006, 05:04 AM
There are teirs of publication. Some people are top NY Press or bust, but those are not by any means the only options.

11-28-2006, 06:54 AM
Always remember, the Editor is looking for reasons to REJECT.

11-28-2006, 03:32 PM
I don't believe in limitations. A, and others, should keep trying. And keep trying to improve himself. Limitations are for breaking through. They don't really exist.

11-28-2006, 04:01 PM
It's good to recognize your limitations, but it's better to exceed them. In order to succeed, you need to stay within your talent range. Luckily, talent is a pretty pliable thing that can molded and stretched, and it can grow to unbelievable lengths. In order to gain talent, and eventually success, you must have drive and at least a touch of optimism.

If that writer did not publish his entire life, despite all his hard work and drive and cheerful attitude, it would not be a waste. Does any writer start writing because of the publishing? Not many do. In the end, it all revolves around doing it for yourself. Publishing is simply a goal you set for yourself, it has no ultimate reward, aside from a little pocket money. The ultimate reward is your joy for writing, end of story (pun slightly intended).