A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about rejection, about pushing through it and using it as a way to motivate yourself and continue to improve your craft. It's something that weighs on my mind today, having received yet another rejection in my inbox. It was personalized, at least, which is always nice, but the sting hasn't gone away.

Choose yourself.
Choose yourself.

In the age of the Internet, there are options available to us that have never been there before. You can start up a website to showcase your paintings, your photography, maybe a webcomic. You can self-publish anything you write (but hopefully not everything - quality still counts).

Gone are the so-called gatekeepers of old, at least to some extent.

In today's world, you no longer have to wait for someone else to choose you, to say your work is good enough, to publish your work for you. You have another option.

You can choose yourself.

For me, this is an option I struggle with. I'm torn between the idea of self-publishing my work and going the traditional route. Both appeal to me for different reasons, and in a perfect world, I would be able to have a hybrid career. For now, I tend to submit my stories to the markets I admire.

But what do you do when there are no markets left?

For me, if I've been proud of the story, I've chosen to publish it myself. In fact, I've self-published three stories via Amazon's Kindle Direct option. These were stories that I was getting great feedback on, but just weren't "the right fit" for the editors that responded.

There are other markets out there, but I've decided to keep my list limited to professional-level magazines that I truly admire for one reason or another. When that list is exhausted, I have to make a decision on how to proceed.

Some stories have been trunked.

Some stories I wanted to get out there, even if they may not have been perfect in the eyes of the editors, so I took it into my own hands to make that happen.

This isn't something to take lightly, of course. Even if you self-publish, you're still building a name for yourself. Readers will remember you and editors may notice you, for better or worse. If you're in this for the long haul, you need to put out quality work so that your reputation is a good one.

But if you're proud of something, if you're getting great feedback but just not finding the market, there's nothing stopping you from creating your own.

You can wait to be chosen, wait to be picked for the team like the small kid on the playground, of you can choose yourself.

You can make it happen.

A few days ago, I wrote a post about being more productive, more efficient, etc. I wrote about using services like RescueTime and using my Fitbit¹ to really hammer down on what I was doing with my time. It was done and ready to be published to the blog.

Then I scrapped it.

Enjoy the journey.
Enjoy the journey.

As I was writing, I realized I was reaching for something that wasn't me. Maybe I've been reading too many productivity blogs recently and it went to my head. I'm not sure. After I reviewed the post, though, I just couldn't bring myself to hit publish.

Efficiency and productivity are great, and we should all strive for a bit of both, but there must be a balance. It's important to remember not to get lost in the chase for these ideals.

Don't get so caught up on productivity that you forget to enjoy the work itself.

For me, that means writing by hand, with a nice pen, on nice paper. It's the most enjoyable process for me. It's soothing. It's therapeutic. It's fun.

When I feel an urge for more productivity and switch to typing, the magic disappears almost immediately. I start to dread writing. Of course, most authors use computers these days with great results. It's just not for me.

Some would say you have to treat writing like a job if you want to make a career of it. They'd say you have to hit some arbitrary word count every day, or that you need to use a certain software to make everything look right.

I think that advice has its limits.

I've had professions in worlds where efficiency and productivity could never be high enough, and I always had success with them, but that's not the end goal for me here.

The reason I want to be a writer is because it's something I love doing. I could go back to any of those other careers and do just as well in most standard measurements of success, but none were anything I enjoyed as much as this.

I must be professional if I want a writing career, of course, but not to the extreme that some might argue. I need to actually write, for one. I still need to put in the hours. I need to be consistent in my efforts. I need to be professional in both behavior and product.

But there's no rule that says I can't have fun along the way.

A writing career is a long con of sorts, and you usually have to be able to last a long time if you want to make it.

I'm going to enjoy the journey.

1. I'm still using the Fitbit, and will likely write about it in the future, just not to the extreme that I had originally considered.
Rejection hurts. It stings. It makes you want to quit.

It can also be a great motivator.

"No" is everywhere.
"No" is everywhere.

If you want to be a writer, if you want to be an artist, if you want to be anything that you’re passionate about, you’re going to be rejected at some time. At many times. And you must push through.

Being rejected is part of the process. It thickens the skin, makes you stronger in the face of your critics. It makes you face down your shortcomings and improve your craft.

For me, rejection reinforced one thing: I was giving it my all.

When I received my first rejection, it definitely hurt, but I knew I wasn’t alone. On my desk, I have a binder containing each and every rejection. I look through them sometimes, paying the most attention to the encouraging comments in the few personalized rejections I've received. I see more and more of those these days, a good sign that I'm making progress, that I'm close to being published.

I also have a handful of quotes taped on my desk, quotes from rejection letters sent to some of my favorite authors and artists of the past. That's right. They got them, too. Even the best of them were told they weren't good enough at some point.

But they pushed through, they persevered, they succeeded in the end.

This is my inspiration.

This is my motivation.

One of the effects of rebooting a creative life after so many years is a backlog of ideas. For over a decade, I've let all my ideas sit untouched, but with this new creative push, I’ve started a fire under their feet.

Unfortunately, they're fighting to be first through the door, jamming the fire exits, and I'm not making any progress.

If only it were this easy to focus my thoughts!
If only it were this easy to focus my thoughts!

Don't get me wrong, an abundance of ideas is a great problem to have, but the lack of focus leaves me frozen and unable to make progress.

I've lost track of the amount of false starts I've had on novels, or even short stories. I bounce between typing stories (for speed) or handwriting them (for enjoyment). And even with typing, I can't decide on using Word, Docs, or Scrivener, so I go from one to the other, looking for some kind of magic switch that will give me the boost I need.

The problem is that none of this helps. All it does is slow me down.

If you've read The War of Art, you'll recognize this as Resistance. My only consolation is that I'm not alone, that everyone goes through this, and that so many are able to come out strong on the other end.

It's a struggle that we all face at some point. For me, the answer is simple (though not easy): pick a project and write until it's done. Then start the next project.

Those ideas aren't going anywhere, and this lack of progress isn't helping me work through them any faster.

It's really just a mindset, a lack of determination, a battle of wills. Writers often need to just write their way through a problem. That's the solution here, too.

I will work through this Resistance.

And so will you.
After way more time working on this than I care to admit, I think I’m pretty happy with the new site. It’s clean and minimal, and gives me an easy place to unload thoughts, stories, and sketches.

Sometimes you just need to start fresh.
Sometimes you just need to start fresh.

I have a tendency to be multi-passionate (or maybe I’m just easily distracted) and I often bounce around between interests. For that, I needed a site format that would be just as flexible. After a few failed attempts, I’m ready to go full steam ahead.

With any luck, this will be a place for me to share with the world, find an audience, and hopefully make a few good friends along the way.

After a few tries at a "real" job, I'm in a position to pursue childhood dreams. It's a second chance of sorts, and I intend to enjoy every step of the journey.

I've been a serviceman, a businessman, and a family man, but it's that family that lets me pursue the things I love. I'm blessed with an amazing wife and a pair of adventurous kids that keep me on my toes.

I have a long list of dreams to chase, so I'd better get to work.

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