When I was speaking about the publishing climate in Botswana and Southern Africa at the LSE in February, one of the questions I got from the audience was - what about people who just want to write for themselves and not submit anywhere? It seemed such an odd question to me that I struggled and in the end one of the people in the audience answered it for me.
I suppose writing for yourself has its purpose. I suppose it helps you to work things out, to figure out how you feel about things. But for me, to be a writer, to call yourself a writer, you must have readers. Perhaps my working class background dictates that work must equal pay. (It also means that pay must equal hard work, which is part of the reason I never seem to do things the easy way; but that is another blog post)
I know other writers might not agree with me, but I just think writers must submit. There is always the fear of rejection, but still you must submit. My cure to rejection angst is to have many things out there in Submissionland, so that one rejection doesn't sting too hard. As I write this I have:
1. Query for a book sent to two different publishers in India
2. A short story sent to a magazine in UK
3. A column sent to a magazine in UK
4. A romance novel sent to a publisher in USA
5. An adult novel sent to a publisher in UK
6. A young adult book sent to a contest in South Africa
7. A detective novella sent to a publisher in Nigeria
8. A short story sent to a publisher for an anthology in South Africa
Of course some of these I have more angst about than others. If a rejection arrives, I will feel sore for a bit without a doubt. But I know that's part of the game.
Submit! The worst that can happen is they say no. That's the worst, and it's not so terrible. Really. With a list like mine, I get lots of NOs, so I'm speaking from experience. I've been keeping a submission journal since 2005. One day I should work out my average, like a batter's average, of how many acceptances I get as opposed to rejections. It might be quite depressing. But it doesn't matter, eventually I do get some acceptances, and so will you.