End-of-Year Submission Tally
Written by
Jennifer Lang
January 2018
Written by
Jennifer Lang
January 2018

“The road to hell is paved with works in-progress.” –Philip Roth

I am neither mathematician nor statistician nor any other kind of -itician for that matter. The numbers here are not super sophisticated but plain fact, easy to understand, even for me: a writer, the teller of truth, attempting to hone my craft. I have been submitting stories—albeit irregularly—on Submittable for a decade: one in ’08, two in ’10, one in ’11, seven in ’13, one in ‘14. In 2015, as I neared the end of my MFA and began to take my writing more seriously, I boosted my submissions in earnest.

As of December 31, 2017, my Submittable account tally appeared as follows:

she writes table

* Withdrawn if accepted elsewhere from previous submissions

^ I checked in after six months to learn it is in seriously-being-considered pile

# What does that even mean?

Please note: for this story to fully report on 12 months of submissions through year-end, I would need to wait another six at least for anything marked In-Progress or Received to be resolved.

My submissions included one online teaching job, one fellowship, one mentorship, two editorial positions, three residencies, and 12 contests. As each month passed, I got more and more daring, my mother’s motto, “There’s nothing to lose,” ringing in my middle-aged ears. Please also note I submitted to various literary journals using other submissions manager systems.

Taking into account all submissions, 18 stories were published. (Story includes essays, memoir, interviews, book review, and blog posts.) Looking back at the whole, two accomplishments stand out: one was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and one won as finalist for CNF literary contest.

Not only has my writing changed but so have the rejection letters. Most are still standard, but over time, some have become very personal, almost endearing, telling me I made it beyond first and even second rounds, one inviting me to submit for a specific themed issue, more than a handful urging me to submit again.

In dollars, I spent a total of $179 on contest/application/submission fees. As finalist for the literary prize, I won $200. I also earned $1,130 from four different publications/teaching. This writing life isn’t going to get me rich, but at least I can treat myself to gelato on a hot, desert day or an occasional retreat in a castle in Ireland.

The takeaway? Roughly six percent of my Submittable submissions were accepted. High? Low? Good? Bad? I choose to refrain from passing judgment. The writing life is hard enough. I'm full of self-doubt. Whatever my acceptance rate—whether six or sixty percent—I must continue to sit in the chair, to hone the craft, to up the stakes, to dare myself to try new things, to set my ego aside, to face rejection, to reach out to other writers and form community, to read, to learn, to grow.

May 2018 be full of promise, productivity, and most of all, peace.


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