Monday, February 27, 2017

Ask, and Ye May Receive

As February draws to a close, I've now had two months on my 2017 resolution of submitting a new project - creative, scholarly, long, short - somewhere every single month. ("New" here doesn't mean completely new. I can return to an abandoned project from the past for further revisions. Heck, I can just drag out an abandoned project from the past and send it off, as is. "New" just means that I can't take the same project and submit it twelve different times.)

So far - admittedly, the year is young - I have kept the resolution. I sent off my February project - a massively revised philosophy paper on the topic of artistic integrity - to an aesthetics journal just two days ago. Hooray for me (I cheer for myself)! There are few things in my life that give me greater satisfaction than setting a goal for myself and attaining it (which is why I like having modest, attainable goals).

Here's what I've learned so far, after two months on the submission schedule.

If you submit more stuff, you get more rejections.

And if you submit more stuff, you get more acceptances.

The astonishingly prolific author Jane Yolen, who has published over 300 highly acclaimed books for young readers, posts cheerfully every day on Facebook about the constant negative and positive responses to her work she receives from the many editors to whom she submits. A typical day might net her two picture book rejections, and three acceptances for poems. The numbers in my stats are teensy-weensy compared to hers. But they are so much higher this year than they were last year, before I started the submission-a-month plan.

So far this year I've gotten four rejections: a (devastating) one on a proposed chapter book series to my beloved editor at my most beloved publisher, and three on a picture book biography. (Actually, both of those projects were submitted at the very end of 2016, but submitted in the spirit of my new resolution.) Rejections always sting. They always (for me at least) occasion self-doubt. Maybe I'm not really any good at this writing thing. Maybe I'm over the hill now! A has-been! A once-was! Yesterday's news!

But so far this year I've also gotten two acceptances. First, an offer from the beloved editor at the most beloved publisher for a stand-alone chapter book that would have been the first title in the proposed series. I wouldn't have gotten this acceptance if I hadn't submitted the larger project that received the rejection. So that submission actually yielded an acceptance as well as a rejection, a moment that hurt my heart and a moment that made my heart sing.

Second, I just heard that I got the travel grant I applied for to visit the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota to do archival research on Eleanor Estes and Maud Hart Lovelace. Until two years ago, I had never applied for a grant. It had never even crossed my mind to do so. But then a friend encouraged me to apply for a travel grant to do Eleanor Estes research at the University of Connecticut - and I got it! And the trip was amazing! And I produced a paper from that research of which I'm very proud. So I applied for the Kerlan grant - and got it, too. Later this year I'll be off for a blissful week in Minneapolis.

Sometimes when you submit you get rejected. Sometimes when you apply you get accepted. But one thing I now know for sure: if you don't submit or apply, you can't possibly get anything. And my year still has ten more months of submissions to go.

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