“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” This piece of wisdom came from an American baseball player long deceased. His name was Babe Ruth, and I transposed his famous quote into “Never let the fear of rejection keep you from writing”.
American baseball is a game of optimism. Seventy-five per cent of the time, a batsman will fail to get a hit. He must make split decisions with each pitch. Three poor decisions and he is out. Yet everyone facing these odds not only believes they will get a hit, but they may also get a home run.
This is the level of optimism I bring to my writing. Like a batter at home plate, I send the product of my labour off to various publishing organizations, fully expecting success. Acceptance by a small outfit like this one is a hit. Acceptance by a literary colossus like The New Yorker is a home run.
I strike out a lot. My acceptance average is 10%, well below a professional baseball player’s 25% batting average. The rejections do not chase me away from writing. Like the good batsman who watches himself strike out on video replays to find the flaws in his performance, I go back and reread the submission and take another look at the rejecting journal’s website for the same reason. What did I miss? Are there errors or missteps in what I submitted that I did not see while editing or hear during my read-out-loud? Was my piece not a good fit for this magazine?
In some cases, the research shows that my work and an editorial staff’s vision are incompatible, and I should not waste everyone’s time on hopeless submissions. That is when I bench myself the way a coach benches a batter whose numbers against left-handed pitchers are deplorable. In other cases, it’s just the wrong fit for a given issue: swing and a miss.
Like the baseball player, I enjoy the game. He plays his best not only for self-satisfaction and a fat contract but for his team and his fans. Much of what I write, although not all, is intended for other people to read. That which isn’t is either journaling or venting or both. While I derive some self-satisfaction in doing so, I write for readers. The editors are like the pitchers ready to strike me out or allow a hit with the click of a mouse.
With every rejection, I remind myself of another of Babe Ruth’s quotes, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run”. And like Babe Ruth, I always expect my next submission to produce success. Freelance writing, like baseball, is a game for optimists.
About the Author: Steve Bailey
Steve Bailey grew up in the Panama Canal Zone, went to school in Minnesota, USA, and taught history for thirty-two years. For the last two years, he has been a freelance writer and has managed to get a small number of stories published, which he listed on his website vamarcopolo.com. Steve lives in Richmond, Virginia, and has two novel-long manuscripts in search of publishers.