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The Losing Game: The Numbers

Updated: Jan 6

Happy New Year, friends and rivals! What are your hopes for 2020? I have a ton myself, because 2019 was wild.

For me, 2019 was a year of creative injury, but it was also the year I made the most new work. It was a good year personally, but creatively not my best. I sent out more work than ever before, but my ratio of rejections:acceptances has never been worse. I learned that it's way easier to be a self I'm proud of when things are going alright. I learned I have a limited tolerance for complaining down, where people doing better than you complain to you about problems you'd like to have. But my main takeaway from 2019 is that my identity as a writer maybe takes up too much of my identity overall as a person.


I give writing and creating a disproportionate amount of energy. I sit down to work every day, sometimes multiple times. Sometimes I stare at my computer and nothing comes out or I dick around on twitter and get sad about the world, but every day without fail I feel pressure to write something new. Sometimes I think it'd be healthier to chill the fuck out a little. But when you want to do your creative shit as a career and you aren't a person with industry connections, when you aren't a person who seems to always be in the right place at the right time, how do you ascend without working all the time? I don't know. People talk a lot about balance, everything's balance, it's all about a balance, blah de blah, but to me the concept of balance seems like a way to move the goalposts on yourself. I don't know if I believe in lasting balance. Perhaps what they're saying is "constantly recalibrate" but we don't really live in a world that's conducive to constant calibration for your own greatest happiness. We've got obligations to keep and miles to go before we sleep. My big goal for 2020 is to try to find a compromise between those drives. How can I shrink this part of myself or grow the other parts up to be in proportion with the writer self while still working hard enough for my own satisfaction? I want to be able to say, whether I've plateaued or grow, that I gave it a damn good shot. Call me Annie Oakley.

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So that was my year, and now I want to know what you're going for this year, what lessons you've learned, how you keep your creativity in a position of service to you instead of being CEO of your life. I'm looking forward to having these chats with you. I'm looking forward to hearing your takes on the 100 rejections thing because now that submittable's made it a thing, because twitter's got hot takes. (Surprise!)


But in the meantime, my favourite part of keeping this blog: the metrics. I'm a data head. It's almost like I went into the wrong business. Why couldn't I have wanted to be an accountant?

[2019 OVERVIEW FOR WRITING SUBMISSIONS] Total submissions: 131 Number of individual pieces submitted: 134 Highest # of times a single piece has been rejected this year: 9 Highest # of pieces accepted in a single submission: 3 Total Rejections: 85 (some submissions may carry over from 2018 submissions) Total Acceptances: 5 Total Pieces Accepted: 9 Pieces of Fiction Accepted: 0 Pieces of Non-Fiction Accepted: 1 Pieces of Poetry Accepted: 8 Have not heard back from and will roll over into the 2019 rejection/acceptance count: 53 Submissions Withdrawn: 3 Longest Rejection Streak: 54 Number of Places that Didn’t Reply: 11 Number of Publications that Lost Submissions: 6 Ratio in 2019: 17:1

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And how it matches up with the year before: [2018 OVERVIEW FOR WRITING SUBMISSIONS] Total submissions: 62 Number of individual pieces submitted: 83 Highest # of times a single piece has been rejected this year: 5 Highest # of pieces accepted in a single submission: 2 Total Rejections: 50 * (note some may carry over from 2017 submissions) Total Acceptances: 9 Total Pieces Accepted: 15 Pieces of Fiction Accepted: 2 Pieces of Poetry Accepted: 13 Have not heard back from and will roll over into the 2019 rejection/acceptance count: 15 Ratio in 2018: 5.5 rejections to 1 acceptance.

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Want more data? Track some progress? You got it.

[2017 OVERVIEW FOR WRITING SUBMISSIONS] Total submissions: 54 Number of individual pieces submitted: 68 Highest # of times a single piece has been rejected this year: 4 Highest # of pieces accepted in a single submission: 2 Total Rejections: 46 * (note some may carry over from 2016 submissions) Longest Rejection Streak: 24 Total Acceptances: 6 Total Pieces Accepted: 8 Longest Acceptance Streak: 2 Have not heard back from and will roll over into the 2017 rejection/acceptance count: 15 Ratio in 2017: 7.6 rejections to 1 acceptance.

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Oh, you want more? I got more. [2016 OVERVIEW FOR WRITING SUBMISSIONS] Total submissions: 33 Number of individual pieces submitted: 41 Highest # of times a single piece has been rejected this year: 4 Highest # of pieces accepted in a single submission: 2 Total Rejections: 20 * (note some may carry over from 2015 submissions) Total Acceptances: 3 Have not heard back from and will roll over into the 2017 rejection/acceptance count: 12 Ratio in 2016: Almost 7 rejections to 1 acceptance.

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So there we go pals! The honest truth plus a lot of personal information because I've basically become the writing equivalent a recipe blog now where I give you a ton of preamble. Whatever. You know how to scroll. Number resets now. See you on the battlefield.

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Until next time, - E.B. Kirsh

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