Why I Love Numbers!

I received another rejection today.

They all sting but some more than others. This was a rejection for a story that I really love. I rarely get enamored with anything I’ve written. Occasionally I am overwhelmed with joy that burbles out of me and people on the street wonder if I’m crazy but not enamored. But I do love this story.

My first response was to call people and beg for positive validation that I am a good writer and that someday I’d be a working one.

No one was available so while I waited for someone to call me back I started looking for other places to send my story. I found a bunch, which was a relief since there are times when I write something that I can’t resubmit.

Eventually one of my friends called me back and as I was pouring out my woes and my fears for my future he asked if I’d like a little cheese with my whine. Silly puns always help don’t you know *grin*. He got me out of my mood even if we had a downward spill when he suggested that worse case I could go to work for WalMart. But I know what he meant – I could get something to fill in the gap between solvency and poverty if it came to it. I just not ready to think about that.

When I got off the phone with him, I was still feeling down. A win is needed, even just a little one, to keep me going. This is a hard industry, I know that, and in a lot of ways it is like other industries I’ve been in. When I was an actor it was years before I won more auditions than I lost. Only twice during my 10 year career did someone simply asked me to do a role – no audition required – they knew they wanted me.

That was a heady experience.

When I went into sales, just like theater, it was a numbers game. Lots and lots of calls, meetings, discussions, and a small percentage of them turned into sales. I spent a lot of time in my last two jobs writing Request for Proposals – I always had a good return rate on those but like sales more of them ended in defeat than a win.

So why would I think writing is any different?

I don’t.

I just would like a dose of that rarity; I would like a little luck. If it isn’t too much to ask I’d like to be the right person in the right place at the right time. Most of the time I’m not – I’m slogging though the muck and the mud trying to climb a hill that is made of glass.     

After my dose of friendly comfort I took a shower to clear my mind and then went up the spiral staircase to work. (Admit it there is something inherently romantic about going up a spiral staircase to go to work.) Romance aside – I realized that I had never written down everything I’d submitted since I started writing again and exactly what occurred to each piece. So I did and this is why I love numbers.

I’m not big on excuses – but a little background might be helpful here. I started writing again in November of 2007. In June of 2008 I went into a 13 month long hell caused by constant migraines. During that time I wrote little. In March of 2009 I was unemployed and in October of 2009 I started this blog.

Someday I’ll write about my experience with the migraines but not yet. I’ve never had something like that happen and I don’t know if I dealt with it well or not. At the time I did the best that I could.

In the end – it has been just over two years since I started on this path – with a nice big break in there caused by an event beyond my control. I’ve written all my life and I’ve tried this before but I’d never published anything until that first piece I wrote in November 2007 was published and I was paid. 

I wondered how many pieces had I written, how many were published or rejected, and how many do I have yet to hear about. So here are my stats! 

  • Pieces submitted since 2007   15
  • Pieces rejected since 2007       8
  • Pieces published since 2007    3
  • Pieces still waiting on                4

That puts me at a 27% publication rate which makes me feel much, much better! Now, these are not 15 unique pieces – two of them I received a rejection on and decided that if I rewrote them they might work for another publisher (one was published thus proving that one editors’ reject can be another editors’ gold).

But still, not a bad show! I’ve decided should be very proud of myself. I’m moving toward my writing goals, I am still keeping things in the loop, and I am continuing to write. So I’ll keep working.

Thanks for letting me bend your ear!

~ Tess Anderson

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