Rejection is difficult and inevitable if you’re a writer. There was one time in the early days of my short writing career when I simply couldn’t deal with it; not because I thought I had such an incredible talent that it was outrageous that someone didn’t like my work, but more the opposite. It confirmed to me that I didn’t have what it takes to make it. I didn’t consider the fact that the competitions I was being ‘rejected’ in had had hundreds (or in some cases thousands) of entrants; all I could see was that my stories were rubbish and therefore I was rubbish!
My attitude has thankfully changed since then. I still get disheartened when I’m not shortlisted or don’t win, but I’m slightly more philosophical about it than I used to be. I can also acknowledge that judging is likely to be subjective. Recently, for example, I came second in a small competition with a story that I thought was terrible, and when I entered the same competition a month later with what I considered to be a much better story, I didn’t get anywhere.
As much as rejection can be hard to take, success, even a small taste of it can have the opposite effect. This month I was long-listed in the Fish Publishing Memoir Competition and that meant so much to me. It was a tiny sign that I was on the right track, it was a sign that I was improving and it was worth sticking with it.