…or as the director of my MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte, Fred Leebron, likes to say:
“Writing is a game of attrition. Don’t attrish.”
This means don’t give up as you submit your writing for consideration at literary magazines. If you believe in your piece and are sure it’s the best it can be, keep sending it out as the rejections pour in. Follow the process I outlined in my post on having a system for submissions.
I just had another piece accepted for publication (It was, however, solicited, which is another nice milestone to reach.), and that prompted me to average how long it has taken my pieces to be accepted for publication. Take a deep breath, here’s the number: My average is 38 times. My lowest number is 17, my highest is 73. That means I sent a piece to 72 literary magazines before it got accepted by number 73. If that doesn’t prove that point that you shouldn’t give up and just keep going, I don’t know what does. I’m not counting freelance pieces here that I’ve pitched and been able to publish, that’s an entirely different process. I’m talking strictly about getting published in literary magazines.
It’s an arduous process, and takes a lot of persistence and patience, but thankfully there are a lot of literary magazines out there, and they are where new writers typically get a foothold in contemporary literature. They are the stepping stone to bigger national magazines like The New Yorker, and they are read by agents looking for talent. So get out there. Remember that all you need is one yes, and all the drudgery will be wiped away. By the way, if you have an average number, please share. It’s always good to hear what the parameters are.