When I got a fresh round of rejections on a few of my short stories, I asked myself the question - do I really have it in my anymore to submit anymore? I couldn't tell myself that it wasn't just about finding the right fit for my stories. It was more than that. Something was wrong with them. I had to face that fact.
Before I could get any more defeated than I already felt, I got a book to review on my writing blog called Now Write! Fiction edited by Sherrie Ellis. In this book, there are various exercises that inspire you to write, help you think deeply about your characters, and so much more. I flipped to the end about revisions and that changed my whole perspective about the revision process.
In one of the sections (photographed above), one of the authors said that Raymond Carver wrote up to 30 drafts of his short story "Cathedral." And I looked it up and was confirmed that yes, this author was known to complete up to 10 to 30 drafts of a story before considering it done.
Suddenly, I didn't feel so bad about going back to the drawing board on my stories. In fact, for my stories, I'm sure I didn't get anywhere near the 30 counts of my drafts.
Back to the drawing board I went. I decided to take the approach that I picked up from this section and approached each read of the draft by focusing one element at a time. My first approach was examining my main character and I highlighted all the parts that portrayed the character. I even added to it. So, I then read it for the conflict. And barely found it at all. At least, not as clearly as I thought.
So I dove right back in, examining the conflict I wanted to have shown in the story, making sure it happened earlier, and adding more internal conflict thanks to my stronger character development.
Now my story looks far better than it ever did. I'm not quite at the submission stage yet but I feel better now that I've taken a second look at this story.
It's hard to face rejection and I didn't come to the decision to take my story back to the drawing board lightly. I fought the urge to ditch this story completely and assume I had nothing else to give it but I would have been wrong to do that. Today, if you are struggling with rejections, don't be afraid to take another look at your story. Consider a new approach in your revision process like the approach I took and maybe you'll find in your newest draft, whether it's number 30 or 100.