Submitting to publications and competitions takes a surprising amount of time. The vast majority result in rejection, which is to be expected, but I feel that my recent rejections are because my stories simply aren’t good enough. (This isn’t false modesty or a cry for encouragement. It’s the truth.)
My best stories, with only a couple of exceptions, have already been published/shortlisted. Many of these were developed slowly over a long period; several were Creative Writing MA assignments, which benefitted from hundreds of drafts and constructive feedback from peers and tutors. I haven’t been putting that amount of time into my stories recently and I’d like to do so again.
It’s exhilarating and encouraging to be published, as well as gratifying to have positive (or at least constructive) feedback, but it can also be a distraction from the actual writing. I’m putting submissions on the back burner while I replenish my story stocks, read widely and deeply, and improve my technique. I don’t know how long I’ll do this for; I expect I’ll know when the time’s right.
I might make a final flurry of submissions first though… I can quit, promise.