What we Must Do

What we Must Do

Like so many others, I’ve been a writer since I can remember. In recent years, long beyond my adolescence, I’ve found that I write creative nonfiction better than I write anything else. It has been a blow to my long-held dream of writing the next ‘Great American [fiction] Novel’, and the fact certainly stings my little poet’s heart, but it’s the truth. I am a better nonfiction writer than I am poet or fiction author – although you won’t see this keeping me from either genre.

I’m still submitting all and any of my work that I think is good enough. It’s something of a goal of mine this year as well, to submit enough to get 100 rejections. It’s a lofty goal, and it’s a daunting one. Already, I’ve had plenty of rejections, and each time I feel inoculated to the sinking feeling of reading ‘unfortunately…’ I learn that there are new depths to facing and feeling rejection. 

Being a nonfiction writer has its own specific traps when it comes to rejection. It is a craft that is inherently imbued with the self. The dismissal of the story that tells the truth of your life is more acutely felt than the rejection of characters and events spawned purely from your imagination. That’s not to say that there aren’t many blurred borders between these genres and others. It is too ambitious for a single blog post to detail the many ways in which fiction and nonfiction overlap, whether consciously or subconsciously.

So, when I talk about rejection here, I’m actually going to talk about all rejection, but I want to highlight that when your work is your life, when your art is a cathartic release of trauma or love or all the many ways your heart can break, then rejection is a different beast. 

Rejection is such a concrete word. There is so little room to stretch and find the spiritual place inside of it. The act of rejection can be a display of power, and we know that being rejected, feeling rejection, is one of the most devastating human experiences. People have murdered because of it and many of us go to great lengths to avoid the possibility of experiencing it. Because rejection is personal.

No matter how much we lather on the sugary excuses of ‘business’ or ‘taste’ or ‘subjectivity’, each rejection is a blow to our ego. It’s a blow to the perceptions of ourselves and the pain of that, of not being seen as who you truly believe you are, or worse, being seen as you truly are and being deemed unworthy or unwanted is the root of the suffering of rejection. 

To create art is to release a piece of ourselves, to make the internal external. Then to give this to another, for them to judge or deem worthy of publication, or payment, or accolades, or simply audience, is an act of pure bravery. I think too, for the most part, many modern editors and publications consider this bravery and the pain of rejection when they consider our work. I know that Epoch Press does. I know that particularly well because I write about 90% of the rejection letters that we send out each issue. It is a trying job, but oddly, not one that I hate.

It was writing these letters that inspired me to submit my work in earnest this year. I knew from my experience that the pieces we chose for each issue were, by and far, not the only great pieces we received. I saw too, for the first time, how wildly diverse the opinions of editors could be on what was ‘good’ and, particularly, how often I would love a piece and see it fail to make it to our final list. We have a pretty good system here, and I take pride that so much variation is considered, even as the loss of some pieces feels a little heart breaking. 

That’s the truth of it, you see. As a writer, you may never witness what this process is really like, but so much of what we see, we love. A huge variety of considerations and a spectrum of opinions are all at play when we make our decisions. This isn’t some great defence for the institution of journals and magazines. In fact, there are many flaws inherent to the industry. So, while we do what we can to mitigate bias, gatekeeping, and accessibility, every writer should know that this is just one space your work could find a home; our opinions are hardly universal. 

Ultimately, the task of submitting over 100 pieces means many things to me. It means that I am going to face a hell of a lot of rejection; it means that I need to create A LOT more than I’ve ever attempted; and finally, it means that I am going to have to become a better artist. And that, that growth, is my real aim.

Being published is amazing. It’s a beautiful ego boost, and a sweet validation that is comparable to your parents telling you that they are proud of you (something that so many of us are seeking). But, being published, and the feeling that accompanies it, only grips you for so long. You know that you must keep going. You must submit again and again, and write and write (or shoot or paint or sculpt or etc). You learn that the publishing is nice, it’s lovely, but it’s not actually the point. 

You learn too, that you can see the point more clearly in the rejections. Because the point is to create, to pull, like taffy, the sinew and tendon and meat from your experience and refine it all into thin and consumable fragments. Rejections tell you what can’t be consumed, what is unappetising, or outright rotting. Even if they’re wrong, the rejections have a message and a task for you. And in that space, that aching, ego crushing space, you can find the room to stretch and grow.

There are countless philosophies and spiritual guidelines that encourage people to minimise their ego, or move beyond their ego, and I cannot speak to the validity of this in anything beyond writing and artistry. The ego has never served me anything but pain, and while I am predisposed to feel an intense dysphoria when I, or my work, is rejected, I believe that I can inoculate myself to this suffering. And I believe we all can.

This is tremendously easy to type and outrageously difficult to implement. Some days, I get emails that tell me my work isn’t accepted and it’s fine. I shrug and I make a note of it and move on. Other days a rejection comes for a piece I love, maybe a piece I feel is done, and I’m paralysed by feelings of inadequacy.

There is no method or how-to listicle I can impart to you. There is nothing I can do, really, that will assuage your own stings of rejection. All I can do, on this platform, at this moment, is reassure you that you actually aren’t your art, you aren’t your rejections, and you aren’t your awards. It’s a craft, and we all have to work to be better. You can lay on the couch the whole week, soak up the sick feelings and the imposter syndrome, and you can get up and keep writing too. You can face the truth: your writing needs work. But you can also see the whole truth: all art needs work.

Samantha Mosca
Samantha Mosca

A jack of many trades: an actress, a writer, a poet, an academic, an activist, a photographer and podcast host, Samantha writes, takes photographs, and reviews submissions for the journal. Her literary interests span the spectrum of the written and spoken word.

378 Comments

  1. 31 October, 2021 / 7:38 pm

    I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Superb work!

  2. 22 November, 2021 / 5:46 pm

    Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

  3. 5 February, 2022 / 12:14 am

    I savour, cause I discovered exactly what I used to be taking a look for. You’ve ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

  4. 17 February, 2022 / 4:40 am

    Iím not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later. All the best

  5. 18 March, 2022 / 11:09 pm

    Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the pictures on this blog loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

  6. 3 April, 2022 / 1:04 am

    Undeniably imagine that which you stated. Your favourite justification seemed to be at the net the simplest thing to bear in mind of. I say to you, I definitely get irked whilst people consider concerns that they just don’t recognise about. You managed to hit the nail upon the highest and also defined out the entire thing with no need side-effects , other people could take a signal. Will likely be again to get more. Thanks

  7. 20 May, 2022 / 9:10 am

    Create Slideshow presentations with the included Picture Viewer.EXE and organize digital images with Batch Rename.EXE, or transform existing files with the Image Converter.EXE.
    Then, if you need to add some finishing touches – the included Image Sharpener.EXE, the Image Auto Contrast Enhancer, the Image Presharpener.EXE, Image Enhancer.EXE, Image Watermark.EXE, Image Labelmaker.EXE and the https://google.com.kh/url?q=https://appoloru.weebly.com

    6add127376 davamer

  8. 20 May, 2022 / 9:26 am

    Pros The application is easy to handle and can open a bunch of target formats Besides being intuitive, it has some useful optional features such as previewing the files from an archive
    Cons The tool does not allow you to compress files outside the default ZIP archive format
    Rating:

    Say you need to share some large files with co-workers. One solution is to use a cloud service, such as the popular Dropbox. That’s the choice chosen by the How I Work community, as its members http://cse.google.td/url?q=https://matanbdure.weebly.com

    6add127376 daynkaiv

  9. 20 May, 2022 / 1:26 pm

    About the author:Matthew is a freelance writer and technology expert from the Philippines, and as such, he loves writing about what’s new, what’s useful and what’s new again – so far, Microsoft Groove Music has been the thing that initially brought him into tech-induced hype.

    I was using the RoboCopy 7 to back up the resulting ISO’s of the Win7 test to a network drive. Although, I just downloaded the latest ISO of that sucker anyway https://readmylanguage.com/readmylanguage/redirector.php?url=https://tranofnuibed.weebly.com

    6add127376 brareem

  10. 20 May, 2022 / 2:48 pm

    FAQs
    Your computer’s storage capacity is determined by your motherboard, the memory installed (such as your memory slot) and the heat sink for the operating system.The Intel® Core™ i7 processor is recommended, and if your motherboard is compatible with 3 DDR3 memory slots, it will be ideal to get 2×4 GB. The Memory TechArts Wiki article will tell you how to maximize the performance of your memory which is made up of Multiplexed DRAM ( https://cowigupel.weebly.com

    6add127376 giaspi

  11. 21 June, 2022 / 5:55 am

    Hmm is anyone else having problems with the images on this blog loading? I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  12. 28 June, 2022 / 6:00 am

    I am not real fantastic with English but I find this really easy to read .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.