Every writer dreads that first rejection letter. I dreaded for it so long I was actually scared to send my work out. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if they said I should just give up? What if the editors and publishers were all sitting around laughing about the horrendous piece of wanna be fiction I sent into them? I didn’t even want to send my work into a contest because I was terrified of the embarrassment of not winning. I let my fear of rejection hold me back. I’ve been writing for a long, long time, but only just recently have I started submitting my work to competitions, or online Zines. Only recently have I started reaching out to online magazines, blogs, and other such things and saying, “Hey I’d like to do that!”
Some of them didn’t get back to me, and some of them did. Most recently I’ve joined as a regular contributor to Searching For Superwomen: Geek Girls Getting Loud. The people over there are superbly spectacular, so if you haven’t given the site a shout, go for it. The writers love to hear your opinion, thoughts, and otherwise awesome things.
I’ve only succeeded at winning one competition, which was the Kick Butt First Line Competition by Jaime Rush. I actually won first and third place, but this was a few years ago, so my entries are no longer visible. It was still pretty awesome. I printed the page, pasted it in my journal, and for a brief moment, I reverted back to a giddy teenager, squealing and showing it off.
This prestigious and first time win still really wasn’t enough to give me the confidence to send in a full short story. It’s one line! Crafting and weaving a single sentence is much different than doing the same for a story. When another competition rolled around, I believe it was for Writer’s Digest, my husband said something that made me realize, that putting myself out there, wasn’t the monumental embarrassing experience I thought it might be.
“They only announce the winners. They don’t point out the losers and say YOU SUCK!”
I laughed, I submitted my work to a competition, and I didn’t even make the top ten. I’ve submitted to several competitions and never won. I’ve also never had to worry about receiving a rejection letter from them.
Even more recently, I submitted a short story to a few magazines for the first time. While I was on vacation, I received my very first rejection letter. It wasn’t long. It didn’t offer me any pointers on how to make the piece better, but it also didn’t say it was bad. It said the story wasn’t for them, and best of luck finding a home for it.
My first rejection letter via email while on vacation. It maybe should have been a downer, but I was really more excited about it. I was smiling ear to ear. My nerdy other, while always supportive of my writing and wanting to pursue this avenue, was a bit confused as to why I was so happy. It took me a minute to realize it as well – and by minute I mean about a week because I wasn’t trying to ponder this phenomenon while in the middle of getting ready to go out on another adventure during our vacation.
So, I put the rejection letter in the back of my mind, we went and continued on our vacation (a post for another time) and didn’t look at it again until about two days ago. By this time I was home, and just about caught up with everything I needed to be, and so could actually take the time to sit down and reflect on why, when looking at this rejection letter, I couldn’t help but grin – even a week later.
This is the reason. For better or worse, whether people like my writing or not – I am on the path of a writer. Rejections are part of the writing life. I took a chance, and honestly, I knew it was going to be rejected. I’m not the lucky type who has things go right the first time, but that’s okay. I’m a fighter, and one rejection letter doesn’t mean I suck as a writer. It means – like many before me – I’m taking the first steps to achieving my dream.