I’ve been told that once you get your first official rejection from a publication or publisher, you can then call yourself a writer without embarrassment. So here I am, world! Unabashed, undaunted, unsuccessful. One more among the starving throngs of quixotic dreamers and creators. I am a writer!
It came today, an e-mail form-rejection for a mediocre story that I only spent a few days on. And yet, I feel oddly invigorated by this failure. I have completed my first full life-cycle of a story. I dreamt it up, I wrote it, I edited it, I edited it again, I submitted it, and the judgment was handed down. Never mind that it wasn’t in my favor; there is a satisfaction just in crossing the finish line. Truth is, I’ve written much better pieces since that submission. Reading the story now, I have trouble remembering why I thought it was publishable at all. This is not mere self-deprecation. The story has some good writing and some nice moments, but the effect is weak, the action slow. It is too self-conscious, and doesn’t really go anywhere important. The journal’s rejection of this story, rather than saddening me, simply reinforces my own judgment of it. It makes me realize my own improvement over only a few months, and brings me closer to having the “literary eye” of those more experienced.
Now I’m stoked for my next submission(s), which I am hoping to have ready for the end of the year. I’ve had some positive feedback already, which is more than I had on the rejected story. I am also taking a stab at NaNoWriMo this year, though I’ve had a slow start. But there is nothing better for writing than writing, and hopefully I can gain momentum from today’s sobering reality-check rejection. I want to have a piece published, however small, before my next birthday. Much as the world of blogging and self-publication seems ever-growing, I am still a believer in external quality control. Objective validation. I want my work to succeed not just in my own eyes, and those of my friends, relatives and teachers, but also in the roiling, unpredictable seas of critical and public exposure. I want my words to matter to a world larger than my own. And with each try, and each stumble, I know I’m getting closer.