Goal for 2017: Actively seek out rejection. (Yes, really.)

Happy New Year!

That’s less of a declaration and more an expression of hope, as in “wow, I hope 2017 will be happy.” Because 2016 was a bit of a Dumpster fire, wasn’t it? Between a horrific election cycle and the way the year killed off so many actors, musicians, and artists, by Dec. 31 I was ready to stay up until midnight just to watch 2016 die.

Now that it’s over, though, I’m trying to look ahead and decide what I want to accomplish this year. I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions; they never seem to carry through the whole of the year, anyway. We make too much of a big deal about them, I think, and create unrealistic expectations (I’m going to get into the Best. Shape. Ever! I’m going to write a novel! I’m going to run a marathon!) and then the second week of January rolls around and we’re slouched in front of the TV on a Netflix binge with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s (those are single-serving containers, right?) and wondering where our motivation went.

That said, yes, you can set a goal for yourself at any time of the year, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set a goal at the beginning of the year. Basically, don’t stress about it, right?

Anyway, to figure out my goal for 2017, I just have to look back to the last day of 2016: On Dec. 31, I submitted a short story for an anthology. On Jan. 2, I received the rejection notice.

Image by Judith E. Bell/Flickr

Image by Judith E. Bell/Flickr

You know what? I’m actually pleased with this. One, it means I finished that story. Dec. 31 was the submissions cutoff, and I was almost certain I wouldn’t make it. But I did. So, achievement met there. That it got killed two days later is less-than-optimal, but maybe the story was less than optimal. Or maybe the reviewers were hungover from too much champagne. Or maybe they already had a story very similar to it. Or maybe they don’t like their science fiction a little bit gay.

But whatever. None of that is in my control—except for the possibility that the story was less than optimal, in which case this is an opportunity to revise. My point, and I do have one, is that my submission might have been rejected, but if I hadn’t submitted, I would have had no chance of acceptance, either.

Control what you can. For me, I can control how often (and where) I submit. So that’s what I’m planning to do. I’ve already got my eye on a submission deadline of January 31, and I’ve filled my calendar with reminders of when some magazines’ submission windows reopen. (Hopefully, I’ll have something to throw in their windows at that time.) If you’re a writer and your work leans toward speculative fiction or queer fiction, my friend ’Nathan is very good at posting calls for submission that he’s aware of. He does that every Wednesday; here’s what he posted this past week. (He also mentions his novel that’s coming out later this year; he’s a darn good writer, so that’s worth checking out if you like dark urban fantasy.)

Wish me luck.