Thoughts on Professionalism

Honestly, I don’t know why I’m even typing up this post right now. It’s not exactly like I am fraught with an excess of spare time or anything… Oh! Wait, yes I do! I’m typing it out because of a conversation I had with a friend not too long ago that I haven’t been able to get out of my brain ever since. Whew! I thought I was going crazy for a second…

Ok, so… I was chatting with a friend of mine recently. Nothing too crazy, just what we were working on and stuff. The topic turned to what we were reading. I answered with [redacted] and friend responded thusly (paraphrased):

Unnamed Pal: “Oh, them. I don’t read [redacted} anymore. They rejected one of my stories.”

Me: “HAH! They’ve rejected three of mine!”

Unnamed Pal: “And you still read it?”

Me: *makes Groucho Marx joke about no club that would have me as a member*

Pal: “No, seriously?”

 

So yeah, that’s been in my head a lot lately. Maybe it’s part diversionary tactic because I’m in the middle of moving and moving freaking SUCKS… maybe not. But whatever the reason, my brainmeats just wouldn’t let this go until I said my piece on it, so I figured I oughtta share it publicly because hey, why not? So here we are.

My thoughts on this boil down to, at a basic level, defining your end goal and professionalism.

If you write, no matter what it is, how often, or whether or not you get paid, you’re a writer. That’s it, end of story. But what kind of writer are you, and how does that stack up against the kind of writer you want to be?

If your answer is a professional writer, whether or not that includes being a full time writer, you need to learn not to take things personally. There is no place here for grudges. When people talk about developing a thick skin, they aren’t just talking about smiling when people tell you your book sucks so much they burned it. They’re also talking about taking constructive criticism and handling rejection.

If you’re submitting to something, it should be something you’re reading, or would/will read. You should be reaching up, if you’re trying to grow your career. Aim for the best markets possible. Always be writing, always be polishing, always be submitting. If you want to do this seriously, there’s a lot of work involved, a lot of effort, a lot of hustle. You can’t allow yourself to get bitter and shrink your reading pool, or your submission pool, just because you’ve been rejected.

Look, I get it. Your writing is important to you. Mine is important to me. It’s this thing I’ve created, I’ve made it from nothing, I have built worlds with the words in my head and that alone is amazing. Putting yourself out there, letting the world judge you… it’s hard, OK? It can really suck sometimes. Not everyone is going to like you, just like not everyone is going to like your story. There are as many reasons for rejections as there are rejected stories. And they all have one thing in common: Why doesn’t matter.

Now I have heard some nightmare stories about people getting really cruel, personal rejections from editors. I have never had that experience myself, but that’s definitely an exception to the point I’m making with this post. Only you can be the judge of whether or not a particular editor is out of line in their response to your submissions… But the rejection itself, just saying that your story isn’t the right fit? That’s not personal or an attack, and it shouldn’t be viewed as such. Mourn if you must, but then get right back out there. Because doing anything else is doing yourself a great disservice.

And you know what? I’m not going to stop submitting to {redacted]. If I write another story I think might fit that particular market, I’ll send it in. Because maybe they didn’t like the story I sent them last month, but that doesn’t mean they won’t ever like anything from me. If I just stop submitting to them, I’ll never get to find out.

 

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