A few weeks ago I received my first rejection notice as a fiction writer. I had submitted a short story to a local contest back in March, a story I had drafted last year and spent a great deal of time working into what I thought was a nicely polished state. I sent it in, and then I went back to creeping ahead on my novel.
Every once in a while I'd wonder when I might hear something; it seemed like it was taking a long time. And then the message arrived in my inbox. At first I was quite hopeful - I thought I'd written a pretty interesting story, or at least a well-told one. So I'm ashamed to admit it, but admit it I will: I was crushed.
And then I went and had another look at that story I was so proud of, and you know what? It's crap. It's hastily written, it's vague, it's boring, it's irrelevant . . . what ever possessed me to enter it into a contest?
So, there's just one thing to do, isn't there: go back and revise it, and this time take my time to do it right. I might just be old enough by now to accept this as a necessary part of the process of getting published - after all, I've been through it before, from the academic side. It's been a few years, and I had forgotten what it was like.
Writers who get published often amass large collections of rejection notices from their early attempts. I like to think that getting this first one was a breaking of some kind of ice, and now that I've started on this stage I'm that much closer to my goal.