How many times do you submit something before you grab a shovel? How much rejection can you take? And do you give up because you’ve come to believe that the motherfuckers are right and the novel isn’t really ready for publication, or do you put it away feeling that a masterpiece has been buried like the unknown soldier? When do you decide to workshop the novel, go to writers conferences, hire a freelance editor. Or start all over. I remember when I was applying to MFA programs, I was waiting to hear from four schools: Stanford, Iowa, Brooklyn and Columbia. Stanford: no. Iowa: no. Brookyn: no. I told myself that if Columbia didn’t accept me and if, as a result, I stopped writing, then I wasn’t much of a writer to begin with. It was that formulation that kept me going: no one, no institution, no agent, no editor could tell me if I wasn’t good enough. And if I did quit, if I did pack up my marbles and go home: so be it. The only one who can ultimately reject you is yourself. I got into Columbia so I didn’t have to test it. Thought after I got the degree, I stopped writing entirely for a very long time.
What could make you quit? What keeps you going?
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