Duotrope's Digest tells me I have had 436 short story/poetry rejections in the past four years.
I have (at least) another 100 rejections from agents for the three books I queried the traditional way: Last Days of the Springdale Saints, The House Eaters, and Rock Gods and Scary Monsters.
536 doesn't even touch the real number. Some markets aren't listed on Duotrope. Sometimes I don't report rejections or submissions.
I received well over 50 rejections before I sold my first short story, "A Fresh Coat of Paint" to Big Pulp. That story was rejected 3 times before being accepted.
The point of these numbers? Lessons. Every one of them. I learned through each and every tiny failure.
By my records, which I think are complete, I have had 153 stories accepted for publication. A handful of these are reprints. Five markets died before an accepted story was published. Several stories are waiting for publication. I was paid, at least a token amount, for 102 of those stories, ranging anywhere from $1 to $150.
Lessons. Every one.
I'm glad I started self-publishing my work in e-book format. I think it's the right thing to do--for me, for now. If I would have started in 2007... Failure. Not the good, lesson-learning failure.
My writing has grown because of every stumble and fall and failed story. There's no other way to become a better writer.
How do you feel about failure?