I like to think I’ve become immune to that jittery feeling that comes with putting myself out there. I’m learning, though, that there is no way to truly weather the feelings that come about when you’re pushing yourself to your limits.
Pushing yourself to the limits might seem like a bit of an extreme notion, but I think it’s the aptest way to describe the act of pouring your heart out to the world in your writing (or in simply showing up and being vulnerable) with no foreknowledge of the outcome. It’s a bit like betting on a horse race—you don’t know if you’re going to win, but you put all your faith in one horse anyway.
Sometimes it pays off—that’s the beauty in putting yourself out there. It could turn out fantastically. Sometimes, though, putting yourself out there scalds you, and doing so over and over again can seem a bit like the saying goes—fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
But part of being a creative—and part of being a human, it seems—is putting yourself out there over and over again, even if you end up with burns all over and only a few good outcomes from the experience. All it takes is one good outcome for magic to happen, after all.
Just because it’s necessary, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
I’ve been experiencing that not-so-easiness on a grand scale for the past year. Right now, I’m sitting at 40 rejections on the romance manuscript I started querying last summer.
Despite the rejections (with a few requests that have gone nowhere, fast), I am continuing to put myself out there and submit some more! I’m currently preparing my submission materials to send the same manuscript that has been rejected forty times over straight to one of my dream publishers for an open call period they are having.
It’s not easy to put yourself out there—I even get a little jittery feeling in my stomach before I hit send on this very newsletter whenever I finally get around to publishing it—but I keep doing it.
I keep putting myself out there because I know that there’s no other way to do this writing thing.
In order for that magic to happen, I have to try.
So I’ll re-edit my query letter for yet another publisher or another agent. I’ll log into Submittable and send off another short story to yet another literary magazine all while doing my best to ignore the long list of submissions that are now in the “Declined” tab. I’ll keep sending podcast interview requests for borrowed solace: the podcast into the void, knowing that some people will simply ghost me.
Being a writer or creative of any sort means that you’ll constantly need to tell yourself to keep going. You’ll constantly need to work up the courage to submit and brace yourself for the potential rejection in your inbox.
But it also means that one day, you’ll get the one acceptance that matters. It means that one day, all of your rejections will be irrelevant because one blessed person finally decided to say yes.
So if you won’t give up, I won’t. We’ll see this thing through to the end and keep putting ourselves out there.
Because the best way to count yourself out of the game is to not even try.
Previously published in noteworthy.