I submitted the best story I’ve ever written to a contest, but it didn’t even win an honorable mention! I guess I’m not as good a writer as I thought I was, I might as well quit right now.
The hurt of rejection goes deep into the heart of any writer, but new, inexperienced writers don’t know how to get up, grab a new pen and keep writing. It doesn’t help to encourage them by saying simply, “Keep writing!”, or “It happens to everyone.” It just doesn’t help. They will have to cry and go through a time of low-confidence mourning. It’s almost a requirement - a rite of passage on the journey to publish-dom. Most authors know the feeling intimately.
They don’t know that this hurt will eventually come out through strong, intense drama and a better knowledge of showing real emotion.
They don’t know this low point of confidence will eventually prop them up and make them more determined to write, if for no other reason than to prove they can.
They don’t know this hurt could be the catalyst to success. They don’t know it will cause them to become a better writer.
But it will.
Losing a contest or being rejected by a publisher, doesn’t necessarily mean your writing is weak. It means the judges saw something special in the winning piece. It may have simply been the tone or the topic - or the mood of the judge. Or the cover letter, or the full moon, etc. etc. etc. Who knows why one wins over another?
Read the winning entries and try to see what the judges saw in them. If your work is honestly as good as the winning entries, submit it again somewhere else and hope for a judge with the smarts to recognize good writing!
Remember though, there are lots of good writers competing for the top spots and the final decision will depend on that ‘special something’ one write has over another. Be sure your piece has breath and is singing! Bring it to life!
Take advantage of your distressed state by continuing to write. Your mood will affect the emotion, and the new story you write, if drawn from your soul, will be powerful. Your mood will show in the characters actions and reactions, and in their dialogue. Later, when you feel better, you’ll look back on this particular story and wonder how you ever attained that strong voice. Then, you’ll remember and wish it didn’t have to hurt so much to become successful.