Last year I got really lucky. One of the first pitches I ever sent got accepted by Narratively, and somehow featured in the NYT Now app. Even luckier, an agent reached out to me and has since been helping me work on a book proposal. That might've been my whole life's luck supply though, and I don't expect the road to be easy from here. One doesn't get a publishing deal by only appearing in one publication. So I started hesitantly sending more pitches, without any strategy or direction.
This has resulted in kind of a stupid cycle:
Write a piece -> submit it to a publication or two -> not hear back -> decide my point of view is worthless -> start to write new piece -> repeat cycle leisurely
I'm at the point in life where rejection doesn't hurt too much, but not yet at the point where I've learned to make it work in my favor. In any walk of life, especially creative ones, rejection is inevitable. So might as well figure out a way to make it productive!
I imperfectly recall an anecdote my therapist told me about seeing Amy Tan's rejection letters. When on display, the letters were enough to cover every wall of a room (I don't remember how big, it was a while ago, maybe this never happened, but anyway!). I thought about Amy Tan and had a lightbulb moment the other night: I need 100 writing rejections before this year ends.
I need to grow a tougher skin and put myself out there more. I need to work harder. Aiming for 100 will train me not only to be okay with rejections but to embrace them. This seemed so smart, I wondered if the idea was really mine, so I googled "100 rejections". It is not. Not as many original ideas in this noggin as one might hope. But I still want to do it! This excellent essay goes more into depth about the positive outcomes of having a goal like this (read the pottery example) and gives me further motivation to push myself.
The goal is not to submit so much that I'm bound to get an acceptance here or there; the goal is really to gather 100 rejections. To value the No as much as the Yes.
I'm a little behind where I want to be, so I'm aiming for 100 not in a year, but in the next two and a half months. And I'm sharing for two reasons:
One of my very unattractive qualities is that I've never been comfortable with letting people see me try hard. In high school, my worst grades were in P.E. class, not because I was physically incapable, but because the thought of taking a shot and missing was deeply uncool to me. I'll put in effort at home, but not in front of people. I honestly hate this about myself.
I admire hard work, but I envy effortlessness. The people who seem to roll out of bed beautiful, and are just so talented that opportunities wait in line to be considered by them; these are the people I wish I could be. But I am very much not this type of person, so by sharing my goal of 100 rejections with you, I hope to own up to who I am, and move past my shame of revealing what goes on behind the curtain.
The other reason I'm sharing is just in case you want to join me :)
You don't have to be a writer to try collecting and valuing things that scare you. In googling "100 rejections", I also came across that guy who wrote a book about 100 days of rejection therapy. So maybe your goal will be to get a "no thanks" from the 10 hottest guys you come across. Or to get 25 job application rejections. Or to let 5 people with different political views from yours try to change your vote. Whatever it is, if you share with me we can help keep each other motivated <3
Time to go start my rejection collection now! 0 down and 100 to go. I'll keep you posted.