Dealing with Rejection

Just over a month ago, I joined NYC Midnight in their yearly Short Story Challenge. I talked about a couple of times here and here.

Election Race was the final product of this challenge.

On Wednesday, the results came through. If your story did not make it into the top five stories, then you don’t move on to round 2. I did not manage to get in the top five. In fact, I didn’t even receive an honorable mention.

world-without-books-gifs-harry-potter
Maybe a little dramatic, Harry.

To put it lightly, I was devastated all over again. This was for two reasons:

  1. I worked incredibly hard on my story, and I believed it was a personal victory when I submitted it.
  2. I made an agreement with my hubby when I signed up this year that if I did not move forward, I would not compete again. The main reason for this is the fee is just too much for me to not move forward.

Now, I can talk about the reasons number two should not be a focus. The contest has never really been about moving forward or winning. The judges are too inconsistent for that to ever be the case. I have always done it for the feedback. The community are great, and I have met many an amazing blogger from doing the contest. Their feedback is what I crave the most, and they are consistently better than the judges, for the most part. However, with the Australian dollar the way it is at the moment, that $50 fee turns to $78. That’s a lot of money for the price of rejection.

rejection
Okay… chill, Buffy, you’re even more dramatic!

So on that day I received nothing, I was surprised and alarmed I didn’t make it through. The piece was perhaps one of the best I have written, I feel, because it was completely out of my comfort zone. As I said before, it was a personal victory, since it was political satire. I had a lot of beta feedback from ultimately five different people, and all were very positive. How could I not place?

My first thought was that perhaps one of the judges was  a Trump supporter and didn’t appreciate the digs I made at him in the story without using his name. But I said that more as a joke than an actual thought.

I decided to stop thinking about it, though, and wait for the feedback. It arrived 36 hours later, and it made me realise two things:

  1. The judges don’t know me. They don’t know my writing style, and they certainly don’t know that I never wrote a political satire before this one. Just because it was a personal victory doesn’t make it one for them.
  2. They do sorta know what they’re doing. Sure, one of the pieces that they gave an honorable mention to had an inconsistent plot and was not a political satire, but they made me realise my story was not quite as polished and perfect as I had originally thought.

Here’s what they had to say:

 

‘Election Race” by Melony Boseley – WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY – …………Wow, scary take on what is not that far from reality in terms of US elections. Good vision, good idea for a story. Well written, too. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………I like the central premise of this reality show election race, and the “Joe Millionaire”-esque hoax of it. ………………………………  WHAT THE JUDGE(S) FEEL NEEDS WORK – …………I think the opening and close distract from the story. By telling us the narrator has lost his idealism, you already give too much away. A case of telling too much. Also: careful where the writing turns to more explanation — tells too much. See here: I wondered if she realized how hypocritical she sounded.  — The reader gets the inside joke — so you don’t have to remind us. This results in overstatement. Still, a fun story! ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………I like your main character’s cynicism, but want to have him developed a little bit more. What made him an idealist before and what he’s no longer idealistic about now — politics? TV? ……………………………

giphy
That’s more like it…

I still feel a little disappointed, but I accept their criticism.

Just like every time before, I have saved their feedback. Any time I get a love letter from Yeah Write or feedback from a story, I set it into a “Writing Encouragement” folder in my email. I read it to remind myself what not to do next time.

Rejection is a part of writing. Of course, I do still manage to miss the mark many times in my writing, and the poor editors over at Yeah Write are consistently facepalming themselves when they read one of my pieces. It’s either good or really really bad – much like this piece. But I pick myself up every time and keep on writing.

That’s how you’re meant to deal with rejection. You keep it as a reminder that you are still learning, you take it onboard, and you ignore that little voice in the back of your mind that says you can’t cut it as a writer (what does that little f***er know anyway?)!  Because every time you write, you are one step closer to your dreams.

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Dealing with Rejection

    1. Yeah… That seems to be a staple with NYC Midnight judging feedback. The first judge kind of contradicts himself with mine. In the positives, he says the piece was well written, but then he comes back and complains that there is too much telling. That’s okay, though! Still had great feedback all around, so I’m pretty happy to just let it all go now and carry on. 🙂

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  1. I submit a lot to lit journals, rarely to the ones that charge fees. I get TONS of rejections, if you were t look at my Submittable account, there are about 12-15 pages of Rejections and one half-filled page of acceptances.
    I have realized that to send your story out is brave, to get a rejection from someone who does not know you, is a sign that there is room for improvement. So there you go. Don’t let it dampen your spirit. Let it help you make better. Write it so good that they cannot reject. At least that is my motto.

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    1. Thanks! 🙂 I only recently started submitting to magazines and even their rejections I hold onto. I’ll keep trying to grow as a writer. I just won’t pay money anymore for competitions like that. 🙂

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  2. I admire your willingness to submit your work and accept criticism. Maybe you can seek out feedback/critique/moral support that is free of charge, like in a local or virtual writing group.

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