I don’t like to whinge and wallow in my sorrow. I also rarely vent through social media. Today I feel I should break this rule for once. Listening to my black dog day moment may evoke your sense of camaraderie and if not, you’ll at least have a good laugh about the petty trifles that sometimes push me to a bottomless pit.
As you may know, one of the avenues to move towards becoming a published writer is to win short story competitions. Alright, so a few months ago I submitted a short story to a local competition, no biggy, right? If you do this like me on a semi regular basis you know, like me, that in 99% your (and my) submission doesn’t get anywhere.
No biggy, right? Right! It’s part of the learning process and by God, it doesn’t kill me to get a rejection. So lo and behold when I got from said competition an invitation to attend the award ceremony. “Wow!” I thought, that’s interesting. The email was personally addressed to me, mentioned the title of my short story and was sent at high (!) priority.
I got goosebumps and heart palpitations. Surely, if they went through the effort of customising my invitation they must have a good reason to want me there, right?
So I dragged my other half and also my best friend to the event. More goosebumps and heart palpitations ensued. The room was packed with other writers, wiggling back and forth on their chairs. Excitement and tension where palatable. I’m sure I must have had the same look of naivety and enthusiasm on my face as Drew Barrymore’s character in Never Been Kissed where she is waiting to get picked up for her prom by the most popular guy in high school.
I didn’t win. And similar to her, this is how I felt listening to the judge:
Yep, outch! Now, as I said, I don’t have any issues not winning. Had the competition people said to me “look, sorry you didn’t win. But hey, here is an invitation to the ceremony, be a good sport and come, will ya?” I would have thought “oh darn, I didn’t win…again! But hey, they’ve got cool short stories and free cookies” and would have gone. Instead, I felt tricked into attending an event under slightly false pretense. Of course their invitation said nothing about winning. But hey, they’re sending it to writers – we’ve got great dreams and a vivid imagination, duh!
This whole debacle is a little while ago and I really should be over it by now. Yet, this morning my other half, triggered by seeing me biting my lip, asked whether I was ok. “Sure I’m ok” I said and then realised that something wasn’t right. Like the girl in Never Been Kissed this experience has left me a bit scarred, I’m afraid.
I think in my career as writer this was, so far, the worst kind of rejection. What do you think? Am I too soft skinned? Will I get over this? What would you do? Please share!