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Adrian, a spy for the King, sees a nobleman murder a servant. His desire for truth is pitted against the dangers of a high-stakes political game. When his friend Draken insists on pursuing justice, Adrian must protect those he cares about as the political games of powerful men alter the lives of everyone around him.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Achieving goals and flipping negativity on its head

I'll put this message in terms of writing, but it's universally applicable. Bear with me if you're not here for the writing, and I hope you'll gain something useful in living a more positive life.

I set a goal the beginning of the year to receive thirty short story rejections. This is in addition to some other writing goals I talked about here.

Earlier this week, I got rejection twenty-nine. Lo and behold, I opened up my email tonight and saw not one, but two emails from publishers waiting for me. My goal was within my grasp. Mwaaahahaha! I reached out and opened the first email.

It was an acceptance. I'd noticed I was about a month past the "query us" date on one of my submissions and had dropped them an email earlier in the day asking for a status update. They responded by accepting the story. I still sat at twenty-nine rejections, but I'm cool with putting off my goal for the sake of an acceptance. Side note: If the publisher specifically says to query them after a given time has passed, go ahead and query. Mine was at about 80 days, and they said to query at 60.

The second email told me my story had been forwarded to the appropriate editor to be evaluated for inclusion in an anthology. Not an acceptance or a rejection. That puts me still at twenty-nine. Augh! So close!

I have six stories still out there at the moment, so I know I'll hit my goal on rejections for the year with ease. I just don't know when it will be. I've had as many as ten out at a time, so I need to get some resubmitted to new markets.

You might think that measuring rejections sounds stupid, but let me tell you why I do it. Rejection is not fun. It's easy to see it as being rejected as a person rather than having a story rejected. A section of one of my presentations on short stories deals with rejection and what to do about it. It can be a big deal emotionally.

My trick is to turn what is otherwise a negative into a scoring mechanism. In order to receive thirty rejections in a year, I have to write stories and submit them. I don't need to write thirty stories since some of them have been submitted to several places over the course of the year. Even so, I need to keep track of submissions, send stories back out when rejected, and all that stuff. It keeps me going.

Another reason to measure rejections instead of only acceptances is the nature of those two scores. Rejections are like basketball scores where you see players score regularly through the whole game. Acceptances are more like soccer scores where you can go a whole game without seeing a score, or if you're lucky you may see two or three.

Larger numbers (like basketball scores) are easier to analyze statistically. It gives you finer measurements for comparison, and it's something I have control over. Last year my acceptance rate was about 8%. This year it's about 15%. I can use those numbers and give you a pretty good estimate of how much I need to submit to publishers to get thirty rejection letters.

A pleasant side-effect is that I've already achieved and exceeded my goal for acceptances for the year, just by working toward my rejection count. It's not that I write stuff I expect to have rejected. I really like the stories I write, and I think they're worth sharing. I'm realistic enough to realize not every story matches a given publisher's tastes, so I use these publishers as my short story playground.

Yeah, it's a little weird to measure rejections, but it works for me and helps me to get those stories sent back out when they come home with "no thank you" stamped across them.

What "failures" do you worry about that can be used to create a positive goal instead?

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