When speaking with other writers, one of the first things they ask me "Have you published?" and "Where?"
I have the stacks of useless drafts, first, second, third and infinite attempts in file cabinets, desk drawers, and shelves.
For the cat stories alone, for each short story published, I must have had over 40 drafts that were unpublishable, or, at best, could be used as notes for a newer idea.
But what's amazing is when the writers who are still struggling with their longer writing projects ask me how did I do it.
There isn't a secret formula.
I racked up the rejections, often in form letters flatly stating in cold terms that my idea was a failure.
I did the research, scoped through directories for viable markets to submit to, READ the submission guidelines - you won't believe how every so often - peers were not willing to search and read through. 'Too much work'.
Eventually, I realized if I didn't re-think a different strategy, the possibility of publication would grow slimmer than usual.
So I put aside all the longer works-in-progress, and decided to try my hand at short fiction. I had ideas that didn't seem to work in forty pages or more.
I re-read my favorite short stories, reread anthologies I read back in junior high and high school.
I trimmed down some longer works, and found that a few became stronger because of it.
Especially the cat stories, the ideas definitely grew better when I stopped trying for novel-length.
I found more markets for shorter fiction. My ideas could be expanded ironically in the tighter frame.
So that was the long and short of it.