Is All Published Work Really Created Equal? Or When Taking "Baby Steps" Aren’t Enough Anymore

Sorry for going dark again, but I had to think hard about what I wanted to do next, and I needed the write words to come to me, and they have.

At the outset of this blog, I said I was unpublished, and it’s true, but only in terms of being paid.

Last summer, my old critique heard about these anthologies that were looking for submissions, and they all suggested I submit to them as they did,

At first, I resisted. Why? Because I wasn’t getting paid to contribute, and it won’t count as a clip I can use, since I wasn’t paid and the anthologies weren’t from a well-known press.

So, why’d I submit anyway? One reason only-
I was tired of hearing “No” from agents I queried my books to.

They accepted nearly everything sent in, no fierce competition was nice, but it felt hollow to get published this way. The few short stories I’ve written are longer than most magazines are willing to consider, 500 word gems do not come easy to me, no matter how much I work them.

Another perk was these anthologies didn’t want “All rights” as most magazines do now, and I’ve yet to learn how to write things I know I won’t want to reuse the same world and characters but still have the level of quality and care put into it.

I thought if I’d be able to let go of my frustrations if I sent those anthologies my stories because I knew they wouldn’t say “No” unless I submitted too late and all spots were spoken for, but that didn’t happen.

Even now, nearly six months later, and despite all my efforts to do so, I don’t feel any different about this.

Everyone in my group and other writers I know preached to me it doesn’t matter and that I should be grateful I was published somewhere at all whether I was paid or not, but they don’t understand how I feel, because they have other things they’re good at, things people value and are paid for their hard work. Even if they never get published (Which would be a shame because I know how good they are) they do so many other things that make them feel needed and feel some sense of accomplishment, even if they hate the job.

I know there many writers who believe any non-scam published work means something, and yet many writers believe writers disserve to be paid for their hard work. I think both points are valid, but even though many writers don’t make a living solely through their words, it doesn’t mean we always want to give or work away for free. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being charitable and sharing what help I can offer to my fellow writers, we all need some kind of support, but I still want to be paid for some of my hard work, and I don’t think that’s shallow to feel that way.

I know these are frustrations I’ll always have to deal with, just like the writers before me, but I hope solace comes for me sooner rather than later.

I’d love to hear from you. How do you handle setbacks in your writing career? What helps you make peace with the waiting game we in the business always play?

Did writing stop being fun for you? Were there times you felt like you weren’t getting any better in spite of the months and years spent revising?

If you are interested in the anthologies where my work appears, click here, and search for the following titles.

Trunk Stories

Something in the Attic

Yarns for our Youth 2 (Not yet Available. Coming Soon!)

I might not update this weekend, as I’ve got a lot of reading and soul searching to do, but check back Tuesday, March 1st for an important update about ttheT.A.A. Prose and Poetry Slam.

Until Next Time, May the fantastical fauna be with you,

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  • Hi Taurean,

    Getting published is such a hard road. Trust me, I know. I was rejected so many times by agents it got ridiculous. When all was said and done it came out to 175 agents that said “NO” on one MS. GA! It hurt for a while, but at one point, something clicked in my head and I decided I wasn’t going to have a good weekend if I did not get a rejection that week! ;) It really changed how I looked at things and suddenly things got better!

    Then one day an agent who’d already rejected my MS, called me a month after and said, he couldn’t stop thinking about and wanted to take it on, in other words, he said “YES”! That is the beauty of this business. It only takes one YES and crazy things do happen every day! ;)

    Hang in there! I’m cheering for you!

    Take care,


  • Thanks Hilary!

    I’m honored you stopped by my blog.

    Someone on a forum I frequent recommended your book to me and I bought it last year. I have a CBI Clubhouse membership and saw your interview with Carmen in the December 2010 issue about blogging.

    You two along with my inner circle of writers helped me regain the courage to try blogging again after I botched an earlier attempt as I lacked a clear focus.

    I’ll be okay, but I think all I needed was just a mini-rant to get this off my chest. Sometimes the only way to let go of frustration and pain is to let it out.

    That’s something I always love about blogging, it lets you release frustrations and hopefully connect with people who understand what you’re going through, and to remember that we can persevere.

    After all, I didn’t get eight years down my writer’s path by giving up.

    I’m cheering you on too, and just so you know, loving your book so far.


  • Hi, Taurean! I’ve read your work, and I know you have talent. It’s hard dealing with rejection, but it’s also inevitable. I handle it by submitting a lot. It stings less when you have more out there. You don’t become as attached to any one piece. Of course with novels, it’s different. I’ll always take that personally, even though I know I shouldn’t. But I put my heart and soul into my novels (as I know you do), so that makes it tough to just shrug off rejections.

    The funny thing is that every time I get an acceptance, I get a rejection too. The very same day. It never fails! I guess it’s life’s little reminder that you have to take the good with the bad. It keeps me grounded.

  • I know Kelly, but there’s still a difference between being grounded and feeling defeated, and that’s how I feel right now.

    This is why I envy those who can have three or more things at one time, at least that ups the odds.

    Despite those who’ve told me “It only takes one great story” if it takes months and years to do one or two at a time, and they all get rejected, you start to question the logic, at least I do.

    My problem is that I feel like no one values my work unless I give it away, and I can’t build a career that way, even the best nonprofits have to get funding from somewhere.

    I wish all those who’ve lectured me about “Starting small” and “Paying my dues” would read this article-

  • I just wanted to let you know that Stories for Children is now a paying market. I’m not sure how much they pay, but I found this out today and thought I’d share.

    I’m not one of those people who saves rejections and looks at them to get inspired. If I looked at my rejections, I’d get discouraged. I get what you’re saying. Believe me I do. This industry is tough.

  • That does help, Kelly. Again, I’m not anti-charity by any means, I just believe some of my work is worth putting value on, especially since I still don’t know what else I’m good at that I can make a career out of.

    I accepted years ago that writing would be one career, and something else would be my main income, but what the second career is anyone’s guess at this point. Ruling out any job involving the military (I have to draw the line somewhere) who knows what else I’ll be doing. But I pray I figure something to major in once I get my GED test passed and over with.

  • Sorry, forgot, thank for finding this for me Kelly. I’ll definitely see if if I’ve got anything I can try there, if not, I’ll hopefully can write something to fit. I’m certainly not expecting to earn big bucks right away, but as long as it’s something I feel good about it, I figure anything between 4 to 20 is a fair start.


  • Hey, Taurean. :)

    I just wanted to add that those anthologies don’t accept every story. I know someone who had a story rejected by them. I know this is horrible to say… But that made me feel better about the anthologies when I found that out. Don’t get me wrong, I felt bad for the writer who got rejected but… I don’t know… I felt better knowing that they don’t just accept every story. I guess it gave my acceptance more value. If that makes any sense. Anyway, I just wanted pass that on. Maybe it’ll make you feel better about your acceptances there too.