Posted on April 12, 2012


What just crossed your mind?  Not getting the job or promotion that you thought you were more than qualified for?  Not making the team. Not getting an invite to a party!  Not getting the man you thought you loved!! Not …

I think I could go on for hours, but it’s not necessary because we all feel rejected at some time in our lives.

I recently wrote about wasting time playing mindless computer games.  But, during some of that very wasteful time, I actually wrote and entered a short story contest.  I really liked what I wrote and was feeling pretty optimistic as a result.  The winners – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, were to be notified today, and nobody called or emailed me.  I didn’t win!  Now I have to admit that when I first submitted my story I was just happy for having accomplished something.  I was quite content with the notion that I put something “out there.”  I let total strangers read something that I wrote, and that for me, was a victory. That alone, made me a winner.  But as time passed I started thinking about the first place prize which consisted of a cash sum plus the tuition fee for a writing program.  It would have provided me with (a) some cash, and (b) an opportunity to get assistance with my novel.  And that was very appealing.

So, I started to really want to win, and I was really looking forward to the phone call today.  But as the day went on, I started to feel a little less confident, and somehow rejected.  I started to think I just don’t write well enough, and for just a brief shitty instance I thought I should just lay down the pen and do something else.

Thankfully that thought entered and exited very quickly.  I’ve sat with this feeling for a while this evening and realized that rejection can be a really good thing.  The feelings that accompanied the rejection slowed me down long enough to gain some more insight.

The judging for this contest was in the hands of perfect strangers who all have their own ideas of what makes for a good read.  And as with everything else in life, we all have our own tastes in reading material.  Just because we don’t like a certain story, it doesn’t make it either good or bad, it just makes it something that didn’t resonate with us.

I don’t know how far along in the process my story got.  All entries were first submitted to the writing school where members of the faculty complete the first round of judging.  A panel of the short story contest sponsors then judged the finalist entries.  No feedback is provided because there are too many entries.  And that’s probably a good thing because what if someone had written back and said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think you are very good at this, and you should keep your day job!”  I know me well enough to know that I would have reacted to that.  And I would have started building another pile – with a big wall to hold it all in.

But, in paying close attention to what I was feeling, I realized that not winning is perfectly okay.  It doesn’t change anything, and it doesn’t say anything about me.  It just means that there were three stories that were deemed to be more appealing, and I can live with that.  It’s not personal and will in no way hinder my creative process.  In fact, it’s had the complete opposite effect in that it’s strengthened my resolve to keep at this – to keep pushing on.  To keep learning and growing and writing as I go!

I am not taking a step back!  Instead, I’m broadening my perspective and moving forward.  I’m really happy.  I could have let that outcome be the beginning of the end for me.  I could have made it my bullshit excuse for not doing anything.  I could have used it as an excuse to procrastinate some more while I “mulled” things over.  Not this time!  I’m on to me!  I’ve found what might have been another trigger and instead claimed some more of me.

Rejection, I don’t think I like that word anymore.  We use it to make ourselves feel bad and I ask, what kind of shit is that!

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