The other night I made the grave mistake of opening an email from an editor just before going to bed. I know better–I really do.
It was an innocent thing really.
About a week before, I’d submitted a short story to a flash-fiction magazine that accepts reprints. My story fit all the required criteria so I threw together an introduction letter and sent it off. Here’s the thing, the story I submitted won first place in a contest in 2016 so I knew it was good. It had already been judged worthy of this world and I’d received $350 for it. So imagine my surprise when I read: “we decided not to use it.”
That was it. No explanation. Nothing. Nada .
After reading the letter I immediately folded in on myself like I’d been booted in the gut. My brain–and fragile writer ego–instantly shot over to that dark place where I knew I didn’t have the right to call myself a writer. Obviously, this online editor could see right through my ruse and called me out on it.
My mind continued to swirl with the negative energy that radiated from the email–my writing sucks, the story I sent was pure crap, and the question to end all questions–why the hell am I doing this to myself? Why do I continue to put myself out there just to be shot down and tromped upon?
The self-doubt and destructive internal dialogue followed me to bed and tapped on my shoulder every time I finally nodded off–don’t forget you’re a loser, they’d whisper. I wallowed in my own self-pity all night.
Morning brought with it a fresh outlook. The shock was gone and now I was pissed. That site didn’t deserve my story.
So, like I’d done a hundred times before with other rejections, I printed it off and put it in my rejection file. It’s now a tangible and real thing and I can deal with it. I could shred it or burn it, but I like to keep a physical record as it shows that I put myself out there and it doesn’t matter that my work is not for everyone.
I slide the file back in place and close the drawer.
Its power over me is gone. The letter, and subsequent opinion–aka judgement– of the editor, does not define my success and I sometimes need to remind myself of that.
I am me. I am powerful. I am a writer.