A few days ago, I did a happy dance after being notified that my story, American in Paris, had been accepted into Florida Writers Association’s 2023 Collection.
Every year FWA publishes a Collection filled with poems, essays, short stories, etc., all centered around a specific theme. The Collections are available in eBook and print. Only FWA members may submit. This is a non-paying market.
I’m not sure what the appeal of the Collection is for others, but for me, it’s a couple of things. For one, there is no entry fee. After submissions are judged and scored, only those that rank in the top 60 are published.
I suppose it’s a mini competition with myself to see if I can get into a Collection. They each have a theme to which the pieces are expected to adhere. The 2023 theme is “Secrets.” In 2022 it was “Thrills and Chills” and I just happened to have a story appropriate for that theme. Child’s Play was the first time my work was accepted into the Collection although I had submitted twice previously.
Why am I telling you this? Because a writer friend submitted two pieces for this year’s Collection, and neither was chosen. The rejection of her work has caused her to question everything about her writing, including if she has any talent at all and whether she should just give up. This, despite her past success as a paid writer.
Another writer posted about his “failure” to be selected even though he was certain the story he’d written was tailor-made for this year’s theme.
Expectation is the thief of joy.
My mother used to say, “Don’t expect anything then you won’t be disappointed.”
I always thought that was a terrible attitude, because why shouldn’t we expect good things to come into our lives? Why not me?
In fact, this is not the first time this has happened to me. Early in my writing career my writing partner and I both decided to challenge ourselves to see if we could get stories published in Star magazine. Mine got in. Hers didn’t. That was the first work I ever had published and got paid for.
As much as I tried to downplay the importance of being chosen for the Collection, my friend remained unconvinced. If her work wasn’t “good enough” to even get into that, all of it must be worthless. I couldn’t talk her out of that view, so I finally agreed that maybe she was right. Maybe the best, kindest thing she could do for herself is to give up writing and seeking publication. If it’s making her so unhappy, why do it?
All writers have had ups and downs. We’ve probably all had times when we thought every word we write is worthless and wonder why we’re bothering. And when our work is published and not well-received and isn’t making us millions, we may think we should give up. I know I have experienced those moments more than once.
But I don’t give up. Because persistence in the face of adversity is key to success. If it was easy everyone would write and sometimes it seems like everyone IS writing and all their writing is offered for sale on Amazon.
My answer to that is, “So what?”
They can’t write like me. They can’t tell a story the way I will.
And if no one recognizes my brilliance, that’s their loss.
Yes, that truly is the attitude I have now, after 30+ years of writing and being knocked down and disappointed and rejected by readers, agents, editors, and anyone else who had an opinion about my work.
It’s your loss. I can’t help it if you didn’t like it. And whether you did or you didn’t is not my problem and it’s not my job. My job is to write what is within me to write. And as long as I am doing that, I can’t be disappointed, and I can’t be stopped.
So there. Take that writing world.