Why Don’t People Submit?: The Fear of Rejection

Posted by Cassidy Brighton, GD Creative Nonfiction Reader for 5.1

After intense publicity, and posters tacked to every corkboard on campus, emails sent to every English department across every SUNY, and personal texts, emails, tweets and more to promote the journal, you’d think the submissions would be flowing into Gandy Dancer. This is the first semester that I’ve worked behind the scenes on the creation of Gandy Dancer, but it’s obviously not the first time I’ve heard of the journal. For years now, I’ve been seeing and hearing the promotions for Gandy Dancer, but why haven’t I ever found myself drawn to the Submittable page before? Now that I have a new relationship with the magazine, I wonder what stopped me from submitting my work in the past and if the same thing is stopping other writers.

Personally, a lack of material was never my problem, and I know a lot of talented writers who have never submitted any of their pieces to literary magazines. And being busy isn’t enough of a reason not to submit something to a journal, either. So, the question remains: Why don’t people submit? Why don’t people want a chance to have their work published in Gandy Dancer?

If you think about it, the reason that makes the most sense is that people are afraid of failing. They are afraid of rejection. Gandy Dancer publishes work from SUNY students, and that means that they are probably within the age range of 18 to 25. And at this age, we’re still focused on what others think of us and what kinds of implications their opinions hold. We are also thinking about what jobs or graduate programs will reject us. There are so many uncertainties that taking the risk of another rejection just isn’t desirable.

We’re also sensitive about getting rejected when it comes to something about which we are passionate and put our hearts into. Whether it is a poem, a story, an essay, or painting there is a piece of them in that work. And to have that piece get read and possibly rejected is just too big of a risk.

The fear of rejection stops people. It makes them hold their work back, instead of putting it out there for the world to see and maybe love. But fear can fuel people, too. Being scared can give us an adrenaline rush and make us forge ahead and have the confidence to take the risks we normally wouldn’t.

Submitting work is just an extension of the writing process. After all, what is a great poem or story without a reader to enjoy it? The point of spending your time creating something you are passionate about is so that passion can infect the people that come across it. Nobody ever regretted getting published or recognized for their good work, but regret is a common feeling when opportunities are missed.

Being a writer is a business full of chances; the chance to get your work published, the chance to create an individual style, and even the chance to get rejected. Writers should take the chance to submit their work to as many outlets as possible, and the time to do that is always now. The timing might not ever seem perfect, and your piece may never seem perfect, and the fear of rejection might still make you sweat. But submitting as many pieces as you can and only getting one accepted is a success. Being rejected is not equivalent to failing. So, open up your laptop or pick up your pen and try again.

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