I got rejected!
It sounds bad but I feel pretty good about it. It was a fast rejection of one poem, where the four other poems are still under consideration. I like to think those four brave children made it past the first round of screening, which is promising.
But also I just wanted to send work out and get back into that process of submitting, rejection, submitting, rejection, submitting – eventually, somewhere, acceptance.
I know from experience that something can be actually good but just not the right fit for the publication; I also know, from experience, that sometimes what I think is good is pretty terrible.
The last thing I know is that I am mostly good. It’s not just confidence that tells me this, but practice and application. And it’s not just internal validation, but external, from my peers (and somewhat from my audience, though I have infamous Opinions re. readers).
So here’s where I’m going to plug for writing with a community.
Editing for others makes you a stronger writer yourself.
When you analyze and edit, engaging deeply with a work with the intention of bettering it, you’re honing your creative acuity.
I can now, with around 80% confidence, evaluate a poem or short story and identify the strongest passages/lines/words. I can also hone what used to be vague criticism into something more pointed and directed, and therefore useful.
I help out my friends and then I return to my own work with a greater sensitivity to my weaknesses and strengths. Editing for others makes me grow as a writer. It forces me to pay attention to nuance and technique. And it drives me to match with my peers – forces me to shrug off complacency and strive to be better.
Rejection isn’t great.
But it’s not the end of the world. Everyone gets told, “No,” most of the time. What’s important is the cycle of writing, proofing, and sending out. What’s important is the habit of putting yourself in the world. Or at least a part of yourself. Or at least a shadow of yourself. Listen, start small. Stay small, if you want to. But the point is to start.
Just do the thing.
Being afraid of rejection was never my inhibiting flaw; laziness and apathy is what drags me under. So I’m probably actually one of the worst people to say anything regarding rejection, since it doesn’t sting me the way it does some others. But I actually take the rejection letter as a sign that hey, I submitted a thing. For once the apathy didn’t win. That’s kind of a victory on its own.