Why Resiliency Is the Only Thing You Need To Be a Writer
If you’re looking for one of those, How I got Ten Thousand Readers Overnight stories, I’m sorry to tell you, I’m looking for that story too, friend. I’m no champion in overcoming the odds to become the famous writer I’ve always dreamed of being. In fact, I’ve got exactly one thing going for me in the ways of a writing career, and that is an insatiable resiliency.
Resiliency is the ability to bounce back and soldier onward even when our failures feel as though they are burying us alive. We fail, we cry, we wonder why we keep putting ourselves through this, and then that tiny voice in the back of our brain whispers, “what if you tried this next time?” Giving us the will to take another step forward.
I wanted to quit this morning.
I wanted to chuck my computer out the window (my husband would not have been happy about that), throw my hands up in the air, and tell the world that I was done. I’ve been at this writing thing for the last eight years. Eight years and what I have to show for my work is minimal in the ways of publishing credits. There are a few pieces sprinkled across the far reaches of the interweb, but nothing of substance. I thought I’d be further by now. I thought I would have carved out a name for myself by this point.
In the last twenty-four hours, I have received two rejections from Medium publications and one from a literary magazine I pitched to months ago. Ooph, that is a lot of failure for one day. That feeling when you open a submission correspondence only to find, we appreciated reading your work, but we are going to pass on this piece, and the immediate sadness that comes after is all too real.
I’ve only been on Medium for a few weeks now, I missed the memo, as usual. I wanted to get writing and publishing as soon as possible on this platform because judging by the hundreds of stories I’ve been reading, I can see the potential that this platform has to offer. So I wrote and wrote and then submitted my work to as many publications as these dancing fingers could handle.
Have you ever went on an irrational pitching spree only to receive rejection after rejection? It consumes you.
It’s the same way you can’t look away from those pimple-popping videos that show up on your Facebook feed every once in a while. They make you want to puke but are impossible to stop thinking about long after you’ve scrolled past the thing. That’s how I felt; I wanted to puke, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how much of a fraud I was. How can I call myself a writer, while getting three rejection notices simultaneously?
However, something different was happening with the replies that were rolling in now. The editors were offering to give me feedback on my work. If you have ever done any considerable pitching to literary magazines, you’ll know that next to acceptance of your piece, feedback is the holy grail of response emails. Usually, magazines and journals don’t have the time to provide commentary to the many writers who share their work. So instead of giving explanation as to why the article wasn’t accepted, they send an automated reply that ultimately says, sorry, not for us. Needless to say, I was surprised to see these editors offering their constructive criticism.
The real question was, did I want this input? Did I want to know what it specifically was about my writing that wasn’t good enough for publication? What if they replied with, “You’re a terrible storyteller, stop now, ” as simple as that. The thought left me feeling exposed. But that tiny voice in the back of my head — the resiliency voice — told me I’d be a fool not to read their suggestions. I was stuck, and the only way to move forward was to learn how to fix my mistakes.
I think back to when I first started writing online all those years ago. Back when I only worried about my little mommy blog and my 48 subscribed readers who would sometimes get a laugh out of the articles I wrote. It was a more straightforward time. But as with all great passions, an urge to grow in the industry began to spark.
From a hobby, this love of writing has evolved into something more. With it, I too, am growing. I didn’t end up throwing the computer out of the window this morning. I kept it safe on my desk while I studied the feedback I was given from various editors who were kind enough to offer their advice. And I kept writing. I kept learning.
This isn’t a hero’s journey, but I also haven’t arrived at the end of my quest yet. Much like a hero, anyone can be a writer. It’s only a matter of allowing that little voice in the brain to speak up and give you the courage to try again.