"By the time I was fourteen ... the nail on my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing." ~ Stephen King, On Writing
I received another rejection letter the other day.
I have a self-imposed submission schedule that requires me to put at least one story out there into the big, bad world each month. Last month, I entered three short story contests and completed one conference application that require a writing sample. This month, I've already entered three contests and I have plans for at least one more.
I make each submission assuming it will result in a politely worded "thanks, but no thanks." As a new writer, I think I'm at an advantage when it comes to handling rejection. Although my loved ones assure me that I have talent, I've never gotten that kind of feedback from someone who wouldn't have to make eye contact with me across the Thanksgiving table or didn't have to worry about me unfriending them on FaceBook. I'm confident enough in my own writing to be willing to share it with others, but not so confident that I expect any of those others to pay me for the privilege of sharing it with more people.
I've survived enough rejection letters that my heart barely skitters at all when I see the name of a magazine or writing contest in my email or mailbox. (That's a lie ... my heart skips all over the place. But I don't get that vision-blackening rush of blood to my head anymore.) A rejection is a rejection is a rejection, right?
This time, while still rejecting my submission politely, the letter also included the following:
"We want you to know that we considered your entry to be in the top 15% of entries for this particular contest. We don't rank stories past the top ten, so we can't tell you exactly where your story would have placed, but your story was definitely one of the more successful entries. "
Cue the whooshing of blood rushing to my head. It still makes me feel a little dizzy just to re-read it. They want me to know that they liked my story! An actual professional with no emotional tie to me said something encouraging to me!
This is my favorite rejection letter so far. I can't wait for the next one to show up.