A couple of months ago I entered a short story I’d written into The Missouri Review’s contest, hopeful I’d win (or at least place).
The rejection letter came this week.
They had a lot of entrants, they said, and the quality was “extraordinarily high.” They wished me well on my writing journey.
It would have been nicer to win — $5,000 plus publication would have made my day!
But at least I tried. I put my work out there, and someone (or perhaps many someones!) read it.
And I realized something about myself — before, early in my foray into creative writing, rejection hit me hard. I brooded about it for days, reading and re-reading the letter or postcard, wondering how I could have secured a better outcome. I saved my rejection letters in a file, too, mentally criticizing how some secretary had misfolded the letter. Or how somebody had worded the form response. Or how somebody hadn’t even taken the time to actually sign the letter.
Sure, rejection stinks. It stings, too.
But only for a moment.
These days I’m handling it better. More realistically. More maturely.
I’m not fixating on the rejection. Or the feelings at being rejected.
Rejection is what it is.
Somebody’s opinion of something I wrote. Period.
Maybe it wasn’t the best “something” I could ever create. Maybe, when lined up next to something somebody else created, it didn’t measure up.
I still shared something of myself with a portion of the world. Not everybody who reads what I write is going to like it (shoot, sometimes I re-read something I wrote and I don’t like it!).
Writing isn’t math. You can’t just add two plus two and get four. As a creative outlet, writing is more like art or music.
Some people will “get” it and like it; others won’t.
Does that make our writing any less worthwhile?
Of course not.
If you haven’t been rejected lately, you haven’t been submitting (unless you’ve got a perfect batting record!). And if you haven’t been submitting, how can you expect to get published??