Last year, as I wrote about in my last (which was also my first) post, I started actually submitting some of my short stories to various online magazines. I was enthusiastic and excited; I dove in, devoting hours to researching different markets, sorting and ranking them, reading their content to figure out which ones were a good fit for my work. Eventually I submitted a few things, knowing not to have any expectations–everyone gets rejections at first, right? And I did get rejections, and that was okay; I just did a little more research, and sent my stories out again.
But somewhere along the way, in the middle of these efforts, I lost all my confidence in my writing. I saw other writers, younger than me, who already had dozens of publication credits. I saw other writers talking about how easy writing was for them, while I struggled to get anything polished enough to submit. I read the work of other writers and realized it was better than mine could ever be. Suddenly, trying to get published seemed incredibly arrogant. I got deeply discouraged, and I gave up–not just on submitting pieces, but on writing, too.
But last month, I sent off one of my few completed stories again, prompted by an upcoming submissions deadline for a magazine I enjoy. Having lost my hope and aspirations, I mostly forgot about it after that. But then, last week, I got an email from the magazine. I read the first line and thought it was another rejection–but it wasn’t.
You shouldn’t need external validation to keep doing something you love. I also know that being officially published doesn’t mean you’re good, and not getting published doesn’t mean you’re not. But I think, where I’m at right now, I did need that validation. I needed something to tell me it was worth it to keep going, that I shouldn’t just give up. That all the time and effort I’ve spent messing with words hasn’t been wasted. Having one short story accepted: it’s not really that big a deal. But to me, right now, it is.