Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

Strike three, you’re out!

98 Comments

In 2011, I submitted a short story for publication. Following eleven months of silence, I resubmitted the story, per their guidelines. I didn’t want to spend another eleven months waiting, so I wrote another story for the same magazine and then another.

Fast forward to November 2013, a cold and damp Friday night. I went to the mailbox and there it was, my self-addressed stamped envelope. I knew it was a response to one of my stories.

I remembered several writers, who had been published in the same magazine, told me the longer they take to respond, the more likely they’re going to publish it. My hands shook. Was this a contract for my first story submitted in 2011?

I paused and then tore into the envelope. There it was, a two-line letter, thanking me for my submission, but declining my story. There was no contract. My heart sank.

I went back to work on my current project with thoughts of the declined story entering my mind periodically. Finally, I came to terms with the fact it just wasn’t a fit for them. Perhaps one of my other two stories was what they’re looking for.

Two weeks later, there it was, on top of a pile of junk mail, another self-addressed stamped envelope. I knew the news wasn’t good. It was too soon. I had no expectations as I slowly peeled open the seal. Once again, I was denied.

The following week, another envelope arrived. At the risk of being repetitive, you can guess what the letter said. I swallowed hard and filed the letter, along with the other two rejections, into my submission notebook.

I figured I have two choices. I could turn my nose up to this magazine, like they did to my stories and never purchase it again, much less submit another story, or I could continue to do what I love. This weekend, I plan to begin another story for this same magazine. Am I a glutton for punishment? No, I just like to make up stories and when they get published along the way, well that’s just a bonus.

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Author: Jill Weatherholt

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full-time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness. I started this blog as a way to share my journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers. Raised in the Washington, DC area, I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2004. I hold a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and a Certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. My first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, will release in March, 2017. It's now able for pre-order on Amazon. I was the first place winner in the Dream Quest One Short Story Contest in the Winter 2014-2015 competition. In 2014, I placed second in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. I was also a top ten finalist in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest in 2012 and 2013. I’m a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest. I love to connect readers, visit me at jillweatherholt.com

98 thoughts on “Strike three, you’re out!

  1. I think you are very brave, Jill. Rejection is hard to take, repeated rejection especially so.
    “The difference between a published and an unpublished writer is perseverance.”
    I can’t remember who first said this, but it’s a great mantra to follow. Good luck with no.4 (and no.5, 6, 7, 8 etc) It WILL happen. Just keep trying.

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    • I appreciate your kind words, Dylan. I’m familiar with that quote and it’s so true. I’ve read about many published authors who had drawers full of rejections prior to becoming published. I have had two stories published in another magazine, but I plan to keep plugging along. I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to comment. Enjoy your weekend!

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  2. It’s a hard pill to swallow, Jill. I’ve been there, too. But it sounds as if you’re taking it very will — at least that’s how you’re presenting it to your readers 😉 Waiting is a killer. Since so many publications discourage multiple submissions, it’s nice when you hear back right away so you can move on.
    I finally finished my course with the Institute of Children’s Literature a couple of weeks ago, and I haven’t done much writing since. It’s nice to just breathe deep and not think about deadlines. I’ve got a few stories/articles from this course that will be submission-ready after another rewrite or two, and I’ve got several flash fiction stories languishing on my hard drive as well. I guess I’m trying to psyche myself up for more rejections.

    Remember, if you need a critique partner I’d love to buddy up…

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    • Congratulations on finishing your course, Gwen! I know you’ve work hard and now you can enjoy the holidays with your family. As far as the rejections go, I think the first, for that particular magazine, was the hardest because it took so long to hear from them. I suppose I allowed my hopes to get a little too high. But boy ole boy, after the first rejection with them, the flood gates opened with the denials…bam, bam, bam! It’s okay, I’ve moved on and maybe I’ll find another home for these stories. Believe me, you’re first on my list when I’m ready to venture into the world of critique partners. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

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  3. Rejection for writers is so tough, yet so common. I have a couple novels I’ve shelved after months of rejections. I’ll get back at it. I know im am a gluton for punishment lol. I’m glad you recognize the real reason we write-enjoyment! Perhaps you can resubmit those stories to another publication? Do you use Duotrope?

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    • That’s so true, I do write for the enjoyment and I’m happy to hear you do as well. When I had my first short story published I was completely shocked since I had submitted it to a contest and never imagined they would publish it. I think that’s why the rejections roll off my shoulders pretty easily. In addition, I’m not depending on publication for my income, so that reduces the stress level. I’ve never heard of Duotrope until you mentioned it. I checked out the sight and you’ve piqued my interest. I’m curious to hear your thoughts and experience with it. You can email me, if you have time. Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your comments. Have a great weekend!

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      • Duotrope is a great place to track submissions and find markets for short stories that may have been rejected by others! I love it~ especially the stats part- it tells you the average response time for each market, acceptance rate, etc… Pretty cool. Especially since I’m a numbers/stats geek anyway. 🙂

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      • It sounds like a great site and one I’ll definitely investigate further. Thanks for mentioning it and providing more details. 🙂

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  4. Kudos to you for not letting the rejection letters slow you down! I know I’d be off somewhere licking my wounds for a while 🙂 I’m curious why you want to continue to submit to this one magazine. What is special about this one that you’re willing to possibly suffer more rejections?

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  5. What a great attitude you have, Jill! When I was an acquisitions editor for a traditional publisher, I HATED writing those rejection letters. What I really wanted to do was spend several hours outlining ways the author could improve his or her chances of publication (revision, a different publisher, whatever the reason it wouldn’t work for us), but of course there isn’t time for that–there’s barely time to review every submission and write a polite rejection.

    I’m glad to know you are writing for YOU—that’s what will keep you sane in this crazy industry. Hang in there—your talent is yet to be discovered!

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    • Thanks, Candace! I appreciate your support, it means a lot. You’re right, my writing is for myself. If I had to depend on it to pay the mortgage, I’d be asking you if you had a room to rent. 🙂

      I’m sure writing rejection letters was tough, but I suppose writing a letter of acceptance made up for the misery. It must be so nice to have your own business now…I’m happy for you. Enjoy your weekend!

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  6. Oh Jill. Writing this post had to be difficult. I’m sorry about those rejections. (You know I’ve been there.) But I’m glad you plan to persist. I agree with Change it up editing: your time will come!!! I will believe that for both of us!!

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    • Thanks, Linda. Actually writing this post felt pretty good. I want to be honest with everyone and share my ups and down. It seems that several of us, within the little community we’ve formed, have felt the pain of a rejection lately. I know your day will come too, perhaps it will be your current WIP. 🙂 Have a fantastic weekend!

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  7. I so admire you Jill. You are what successful authors are made of.

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    • Aw, Dor, that’s so kind of you. I’m just doing something that I love, I’ll never get rich from it, but I’m okay with that. Welcome home! I’m glad you had a nice trip. I’m looking forward to some photo of the first snow in Shenandoah. Enjoy the weekend!

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  8. You’ve inspired me. I have submitted several short stories but never heard back. I think I will keep on submitting!

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  9. Guidelines question: Is this one of those “no simultaneous submissions” publications? There are lots of destinations out there that do accept them (one or more of which may fall in love with your writing). Frankly, I think it’s an awful policy that does not reflect the reality of a writer’s life. Why let your story collect dust for a year while waiting for one editor to get around to it?

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    • Hey, Eric. I hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving. No, this publication has no restrictions on simultaneous submissions and that’s one of the reasons I submit to them. I agree with you, it’s not a good policy and it puts the writer into a holding pattern, at least with that story. Enjoy your weekend!

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  10. Form rejection is tough. It’s okay to be a bit bitter and angry and go through a whole tidal wave of emotions. Then get back to writing. 🙂 It might help to branch out to other magazines. Who knows where your story might find a home? 🙂

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  11. Ahh Jill, I’m so sorry. This is really so hard to take. Yet, you are pressing on because you know that any writing is never wasted. (Atleast, that’s what I tell myself anyway!) You inspire me and especially as you are going to get ‘write’ back to writing this weekend.

    You can do it, and now it’s my turn to encourage you my friend! Do you have any other magazines in mind to try?

    I hope you have a really wonderful weekend Jill – I’ve got Nicky coming home and just finished making his favourite cake, Chocolate Dirt Cake and I’m saving a huge bit for you and Derek from Devon to cheer you up -) x

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    • Thank you for your encouragement, Sherri! I’m so happy we met. 🙂

      You’re right, our writing is never wasted. Yes, I do submit to other magazines, but this one, I can’t explain it, I’m determined to receive a letter of acceptance from them. The good thing is, I have a lot of fun writing these stories and they’re only 800 words.

      Yum! Chocolate Dirt Cake, that sounds delicious. I might have to get your recipe. I think Derek from Devon and my dad would enjoy that. I’m so happy Nicky is coming this weekend. Have a wonderful time with your family! xo

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      • That’s the main thing Jill, that you are enjoying your writing. I know what you mean about being determined, and I’m sure that you will get that acceptance, sooner rather than later as you’ve got a great attitude and a huge amount of tenancity…you go girl 😉

        Cocoa Fudge cake courtesy of the one and only Betty Crocker and my own take on it for the ‘dirt’ bit! I’ll happily let you have the recipe if you want it, let me know 🙂 xo

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      • Thanks, Sherri! 🙂 If you could email me a copy of the recipe, that would be great! Of course, no hurry, I know you’re busy.

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  12. Life sucks sometimes Jill, but I think you are right to keep going with this. We (my Splinter writing group) have come to the conclusion that each magazine has its own formula which a new writer needs to crack, because you will probably find that it is the same names getting published.
    I also think it is very healthy to keep a record of your rejections because they alone prove that you are getting your work out there and not just piling up a lot of stories in files on your laptop without reason.
    Keep going Jill – I think Dylan’s quoted mantra says it all.
    Tell you what – leave writing alone this weekend – go out and do something fun and forget about it for a while. Come back refreshed and with renewed gusto!

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    • That’s funny, Jenny, I just mentioned above to Marie (1WriteWay) that I was determined to crack the code of this particular magazine. They definitely have a specific formula and I know what it is, I just need to submit something fresh. Oh yes, I see the same names. One woman has been published 12 times, but kudos to her, she’s cracked it. 🙂
      You mentioned your writing group, Splinter, now I’m curious where the name came from. I might take your advice. Although I have a new story idea percolating, I may let it rest for the weekend. By the way, did you receive an invitation for Nicky’s birthday party? I thought for sure we would be at the top of the guest list. 🙂 Have a great weekend, Jenny!

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      • Invitation? No, I didn’t get one – it must have been something I said… 😉
        The name Splinter was chosen because three of us from our original writing class broke away and set up our own little group where we challenge each other monthly to write a short story (up to 2500 words) on a theme chosen by one of us. We’ve been going about a year now and have gained two more writers, both of whom were once taught by the same tutor. We meet in a pub for supper and cogitate over each other’s stories. It’s fun!

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      • I guess we’ve been snubbed, Mrs. Robinson…oh well, perhaps next year. 🙂 Your writing group sounds like great fun and the name, so appropriate. I sure wish I didn’t live across the pond, I’d love to join you all.

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      • Jill, if you lived nearer, we’d definitely have you in our group!
        Maybe we should set up an on-line one? Something to think about for the new year….

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      • That sounds like a great idea, Jenny. Maybe we can convince Marylin to be our instructor. 🙂

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  13. I knew you were an amazing person, but after reading this I know you are even MORE amazing! So sorry about the “declines”, after all that work and effort! NOT RIGHT! I admire your perseverance and determination to keep going and submitting to the same magazine! That’s what I call NOT GIVING UP. Love that! You are one incredible Brickhouse Chick! xo

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    • LOL! I’m honored to be in the incredible Brickhouse Chick club, Maria! Thank you! 🙂 The good thing is, I had fun writing the stories and didn’t really consider it work. I hope you have a great weekend, hopefully you’re not going to get any of the ice that’s heading North. Be safe!

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      • Fun is what it’s all about so kudos to you! We got some ice and snow but it all melted this morning. 🙂 Gotta get some decorating going but I am too overwhelmed. Also dealing with some swallowing issues due to bone spurs in my cervical spine. Going for an MRI Tues, hope we can get to the bottom of it. I guess it’s a good weight loss program though I still eat even if it hurts to swallow! Enjoy your weekend!

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      • Oh Maria, I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope the MRI shows what’s going on. Keep me posted and I’ll certainly keep you in my prayers. Well, you’ve got to eat, maybe soups? Take care of yourself and we’ll chat next week after the MRI.

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  14. Love the spirit, Jill. But I’m confused. Why NOT send those stories elsewhere? Not INSTEAD of trying to crack that particular magazine’s acceptance code but WHILE trying to crack it if you feel strongly about connecting with that particular publication. We all know ‘rejection’ and ‘denied’ doesn’t equal ‘not good writing/story.’ You said you’ve come to terms with the first story not being a good fit for that magazine. Can you come to terms with the fact it might be a great fit elsewhere? Is there a downside to sending it in a different direction while working on your current project?

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    • Hey Shel! I’m loving your Stocking Stuffer posts this week. 🙂 I have entered one of the stories in a contest, but really, these stories were specifically written to this magazine’s style. The good thing is, I have fun writing these short, 800 word stories. I do keep my eyes opened for other submission opportunities and if one comes along, that might be a good fit for one of these stories, I’ll have no hesitation to submit it. Enjoy your weekend!

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  15. I sure do know how you feel. I have miles of those rejection letters…

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  16. “No, I just like to make up stories and when they get published along the way, well that’s just a bonus.”

    Inspirational, Jill! That’s exactly what we should be doing. It seems a lot of us have had a rash of rejections lately. We would all do well to remember your attitude. It seems like good things happen when we least expect them, so the sooner we stop expecting, the better off we’ll be. 🙂

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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    • Thanks, Phillip! You’re right, good things do happen when you’re not expecting it. When my first short story was published, I never dreamed it would happen. I entered a contest for fun. I must admit, it was a thrill to see the story in print.

      Yes, between you, Linda and myself, we’ve got a little rejection club started. 🙂 I’m not concerned, I believe good things will happen to all of us in 2014.

      You have a wonderful weekend as well, Phillip!

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  17. Thank you for sharing this Jill. I submitted a total of three stories (and two poems) this year and all were rejected so I hear you! What’s kept me going is my novel-in-progress. I am grateful I have this ‘project’ to turn to when life seems unfair. Keep the faith and stick with your passion. I have to believe passion always pays off.

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    • You’re welcome. I think most of us are familiar with rejection whether it’s with our writing or other events in our lives. I feel the same, my WIP is my main focus, writing short stories is for fun. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I hope you have a great weekend!

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  18. I won’t argue with you, Jill, because you’re not giving up. As long as you keep trying, I applaud you.

    But I will give you an example from my own experience. When I’m researching places to submit a story, I keep three lists: the A list is for all possible places that will accept simultaneous submissions: the B list is for those that require exclusive, non-simultaneous submissions; and the C list is an ongoing list of hopeful favorites–along with the stories I have submitted, the dates sent and rejected, and what, if any, actual comments or responses were made on the rejection slips.

    If someone on the C list rejected me three times without actual comments or suggestions, I would not automatically assume there was a problem with my stories. Possibly there is a problem with the “fit” of my writing with this publication. Two of my favorite short stories that were rejected by the same publication on my C list, were later accepted (and paid very well for) by publications on my A and B lists, and one actually went on to be sold for reprint rights as well.

    Sometimes we have to change our expectations and interpretations about our writing C groups, Jill. They’re not always worth the head butting…and they’re not always right.

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    • Marylin, I can see why you’re a teacher. I appreciate you taking the time to explain your strategy in regards to submission. It makes complete sense. I’m plan to print your comment and use it as a guide for future submissions. You and Sherri, you’re such great encouragers. I feel blessed to be a part of such a wonderful community of talent. Enjoy your weekend and stay warm!

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  19. Good for you Jill, from someone who hasn’t had the courage to submit anything anywhere. I think the advice is to wear your rejections like badges of honour. Battle on.

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    • LOL! Thanks, Roy! If you prefer to write for yourself and the followers on your blog, that’s your decision. Personally, I think you’re a fantastic writer, especially when it comes to your historical pieces. You might be surprised by the number of people who agree with me. Enjoy the weekend! I’m off to battle!

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  20. Well, you’re writing for the right reason, Jill- because you love to 🙂
    I don’t know what kind of market you’re looking at but presumably there are other publications you could try? Good luck with your next attempt and I totally applaud your resilience and determination.

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    • Thanks, Jo! Yes, I love to write as much as you love to travel and take incredible photographs. My main focus is my current novel, but when I need a break, I like to write short stories for fun. I do plan to expand my search for other publications in 2014, however, it’s more for the enjoyment of writing than the quest for publication. Have a fantastic weekend!

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  21. No ‘Quit’ in Jill! What a great attitude… I’m dubbing you ‘My Sunshine Girl!’

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    • Billy, your comments always bring a smile to my face! I appreciate all of your tweets and if I ever figure out how Twitter works, I’ll be tweeting your beautiful posts. I hope you didn’t get any ice yesterday…be safe and enjoy the weekend!

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  22. Great attitude, Jill. Perseverance is the key to success!

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  23. Be persistent, believe in yourself, and be flexible. I was so set on writing a particular type of book for a particular publisher, that when they rejected my story I was lost. I had to rethink my goals and open my mind to other possibilities. Keep with it. Put your work out there with other publishers and keep writing every day. You will succeed. 🙂

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    • Speaking as a newly contracted writer, I’m going to follow every bit of your advice, Jolyse. I’m so happy for you and I can’t wait to read your novel! I admire your perseverance this year. You had a challenging time, especially with your husband’s cancer. You continued to press on and now you have two rewards, your husband is healthy and you have a contract…life is good! 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend, Jolyse!

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  24. Jill, what a great attitude!! The mysteries of getting submissions accepted are too vast for me to comprehend! It does seem that them holding on to the first one for so long really boded well. I’ve recently been a little bewildered by online submissions being rejected within one day. Huh? They wouldn’t even have had time to pass it on to anyone to read, would they? Very demoralizing. I will try to keep my attitude up as you do!

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    • Thanks, Luanne! “The mysteries of getting submissions accepted are too vast for me to comprehend.” That is too funny, but so true. I’m starting to think that my first submission fell behind someone’s desk and the cleaning crew discovered it almost a year later. 🙂 I’ve never tried online submissions. I guess the upside is, they don’t keep you waiting, but you’re right, you wonder if they read the story. By the way, I really loved your recent interview and your professional head shot is beautiful! Enjoy the weekend!

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      • Haha, I’m glad you caught my “tongue in cheek” there, Jill! I think you’re right about losing it. I think there are naughty little submissions elves who go around playing with our submissions–making paper airplanes, setting them on fire, changing letters to create bad words, etc. Thank you so much about the interview!

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      • LOL! I think you’re right about the elves, Luanne. You’re very welcome, it was a great interview. I look forward to reading your memoir in the future. 🙂

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  25. Hi Jill – I feel your pain. I remember way back when I first started writing, I submitted story after story and just kept getting rejected. It’s not a great feeling at all. That was many years ago, and it depressed me so much I just stopped writing for a long time. These days, obviously being much wiser and mellower, it doesn’t bother me as much. But it still bothers me. For example, I wrote this blog post a while back … I think before you started following my blog. Anyway, it just recounts my rejection earlier this year. But there is some positive feedback in it, so that was good.

    http://davidpagan.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/on-writing-the-inevitable-rejection/

    Have a great weekend!

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    • Thanks for the link, Dave. When I started writing, I did it for myself and never thought of submitting anything. After I entered a contest and the story was published in Southern Writers Magazine, it created a spark that made me wonder if I should submit more of my writing. Like you, I’m pretty mellow about it. I live in the real world and know I would never be able to leave my day job to pound out stories all day. It’s something I love to do in my free time and one of the greatest rewards has been meeting such a wonderful group of people, like yourself. We can all learn from each other and that’s pretty cool. You have a great weekend as well, perhaps you’ll have some free time to watch Rudolph! 🙂

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      • That’s funny. I started out the opposite way with my writing. I began writing for the express purpose of getting published. Fortunately, these days, I enjoy my writing time and am looking forward to self-publishing some short stories and a book or two. I agree, it’s been awesome to meet so many like-minded people. The beauty of the internet and the world of blogs, we can all have a sense of community … pretty cool when you think about how not that long ago, we’d all be toiling away, all by ourselves, isolated, with no clue about all those around us doing the same thing. Sometimes I really love technology.

        Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Haven’t watched Rudolph yet, but we did have a double feature last night: The Santa Clause followed by Prancer 🙂

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      • I love technology too, when it’s working properly. 🙂 It sounds as though you had a festive night. I watched Rudolph last week and as usual, I cried.

        I’m currently watching the Eagles v. Lions game and thankful I don’t live in Philadelphia. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an NFL game played with this much snow. Enjoy the day, Dave!

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  26. I need to start submitting stories, but I’m never sure which magazines to send submissions to…..you just gave me the jump start I needed. Rejection or no rejection, there is no try, only do!

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  27. Right there with ya JW.
    Terry

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  28. Hi Jill. I admire your great spirit of perseverance. Writing for fun is the way to go and somehow i have a feeling your next story will get published in the same magazine since you have finally learned how to crack the code. Good luck and my best wishes. Your attitude is very inspiring for me since sometimes I give up too easy where I could have persevered. Thanks for the inspiration and for a lovely post. Take care my friend and have a lovely weekend.

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    • Thank you for your kind words, Samina. Well, I’m not sure if my next story will make it into the magazine, but one of these days. It’s easy to give up on something rather than to push through, but when we persevere, the reward is always great. I hope your eyes are doing better these days and all is good in your world. Have a wonderful week!

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  29. Jill: I know that one of your posts very soon will tell us how another letter arrived and this time your story was accepted! I look forward to hearing all about your joy when that does occur. In the meantime, keep at the keyboard and get that story done…and the next one…and another after that. Keep us posted. 🙂

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    • Hey, thanks Mark. I really appreciate your encouragement. I’ll keep plugging along and we’ll see what happens. I wish you the best as you begin your revisions on your NaNa project. Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

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  30. I love your determination! That’s what it takes in this biz. I wish you the best of luck!

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  31. Magazines are notorious for taking forever to respond to submissions, even when they approach you for a story. At least that’s been my experience. I love your courage. You go, girl. 😉 Keep submitting, submitting, submitting. Here’s to wishing you success! 🙂

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  32. Ugh, rejection is the worst. I’m sorry :-/ I’ve never queried a magazine and am wholly unfamiliar with the process or how all of that works, but– I have definitely queried my fair share of literary agents… which is to say I have received dozens of rejections. They always sting.
    Keep on writing, and I can’t wait to hear about the letter that comes in the mail with an offer of contract!

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  33. Keep at it! You miss 100% of the shots you never take, so keep aiming at that net and firing off your stories. You’re increasing your chances of being published by them – and becoming a better writer in the process.

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  34. Thanks for sharing this anecdote, Jill. I haven’t sent anything to try to publish. I know part of the reason why is I don’t want to be rejected…right now. But the time may come, and reminders that persistence and risk-taking are key elements of success is very helpful. 🙂

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  35. It sounds great that you are able to enjoy the process of writing your material, regardless of the reaction it might get — I can relate, as I don’t think that I would be motivated to write songs if I didn’t get so much pleasure from the process and was only looking forward to finding out the impact my work would have on people.

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    • I think we’re on the same page, Chris. We both create for ourselves first. For me, if someone likes my story enough to publish it, that’s an unexpected surprise. Thanks for stopping by Chris. I appreciate the Tweet!

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  36. It will happen one day when you least expect it. In the meantime, keep sending those stories in. If you don’t, you will definitely not have a chance at it.

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    • It did happen twice when I never expected it, but not with this particular magazine. You’re right, Renee, if I stop, then I’ll continue to read other people’s stories in that publication. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

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  37. Be brave and carry on, Jill! I say keep writing your stories and keep on submitting them. That magazine will publish your stories one of these days. I like your positive spirit:)

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