When I untied my heartstrings,
Better Judgement snarled. “Why?”
I answered: “Because it needed to soar.”
Your words are
More valuable to me
Than precious gems
Than life-giving air
Imagine, if you will,
What would happen
If you used them
To destroy me
We’re all waiting to die.
I learned that truth at a young age and hoped Death would save me from the minutiae of life. When he didn’t—if Death was indeed a he—I got desperate and figured I’d force his arrival. I remember sitting in my room holding my father’s gun to my head, the cold barrel digging into my temple. A twisted smile plastered on my face. I felt as if I was a lover waiting for my date to arrive, but the bastard stood me up.
A Lost Soul, darkened by troubles,
Handed an Angel a set of worn cards
With ragged, trembling hands.
The Lost Soul tried to speak
But years of torment–
No doubt by the cards–
Made speech difficult.
Filled with pity, the Angel
Leaned down and said:
“Speak. I will listen.”
“Gracious One,” the Soul whispered.
“If it’s not too much trouble,
Can you put these back
And deal me new ones?”
Photo by Amisha Nakhwa
I stepped into a sterile glass box that whirled as it carried me into the computerized brain of the Ancient One. Red lights ran the length of my body, gathering data for the algorithm that would determine my life’s purpose or, as the Ancient called it, Life Assignment.
A disembodied voice told me this was the day I’d truly begin living my life, but what the machine considered living…wasn’t living at all.
In the City of Light, there was one
Whose warm, gentle luminance made her
The epitome of all that was good.
But then her admirers noticed she possessed
Something that no one in the City of Light
Should have: a shadow. A flaw.
No longer was she a symbol of purity,
But an object of disgust. So, her beloved
Admirers turned their backs on her.
As they walked away, she noticed dark voids
Trailing behind each of them that her light–
Now an object of disgust–couldn’t illuminate.
“Shadows,” she realized with some disbelief.
“Shadows as dark as mine.”
When I first started submitting my stories to contests and magazines, a question bothered me: would the judges praise me for my goddess-like storytelling skills or want to cleanse their eyes after reading my garbage?
My naive mind couldn’t handle being rejected from my first submission. I felt like giving up on writing and didn’t pen anything for months. I eventually realized that my expectations were unrealistic and developed a new mindset. It goes a little like this…
It’s not impossible to win or get accepted, but it’s also not a guarantee.
Why do some writers feel disappointed when they receive a rejection or lose in a writing competition? I think it’s hubris (What do you think?).
The reality is that it’s unlikely your fiction will come out on top if you consider the slew of other writers who submitted along with you. Think about it: if you submit your fiction into an international contest or magazine, your piece will be competing against BILLIONS of other pieces.
This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to win, but it’s most definitely NOT a guarantee!
Don’t be snooty!
Non-paying avenues can be just as beneficial to your writing career as paying ones.
If a free-to-enter, non-paying magazine with a large audience base features your work, guess what? You’re getting exposure on a well-established platform with readers looking for awesome writers. It’s a chance to grow your platform and advance your writing career.
Rejection means not for them. Not “not for the entire world!”
Whether your piece wins a contest or is accepted at a magazine depends on the judges and editors reading it. They’re humans—like you—with unique tastes and they may not like your work. That’s fair. Get over it. Art is subjective and fiction is art. You can’t please everyone.
Rejection doesn’t devalue your writing. It just means you have to keep submitting until you do find those who will like your work (side note: some contest judges and magazine editors will give you a free critique—use it to improve your writing…or not!). You can even use your stories to build your readership on your blog or sell them as a collection.
Ever since I adopted this philosophy, I stress less when I submit my stories. It’s not a full-proof plan, but’s it’s something!