A Writer’s Lent: Discouragement

(Part of a series applying the Prayer of St. Ephraim to the writer’s life, and considering where I can improve.)

Grant not unto me a spirit of idleness,
of discouragement,
of lust for power,
and of vain speaking.

Perhaps St. Ephraim was a writer. He hit the biggest two writing killers at the beginning of his prayer. Last time was idleness, and this time it’s discouragement.

Does it need to be said? Writing is incredibly discouraging. You will work for weeks on a short story, or for months on a novel. It will be rejected. You will make it better, and it will be rejected again. And again. And again. You can expect to garnish dozens of rejections before you ever see an acceptance. And you must reckon with the fact, either disheartening or encouraging depending on your point of view, that being rejected often has nothing to do with your story. Lots of great stories get rejected. The only thing you can do is keep trying.

I actually haven’t counted how many rejections I got before I sold my first story. It doesn’t matter, really. If you’re gonna write, you have to become immune to rejection. You have to get to the point where you don’t care how many times you get told “no” for every “yes”. Seriously, if Duotrope didn’t keep track of my acceptance ratio for me, I woudn’t have any idea what it was.

Just a few weeks ago I sold a story which was the first one I wrote after I decided to get serious about publishing. It had been rejected 20-some times. And the market I sold it to was a top-paying, selective pro market. Discouragement is for chumps.

Next time: the lust for power.

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1 Comment

  1. This post is a nice dose of truth. Rejection is part of the norm of the writing life. And yes, it can be discouraging, but staying discouraged doesn’t get you to a yes. Have to keep trying and be of good courage to reach the desired goal.

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