Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about rejection again. Or should I say, I’ve been thinking a lot about it still? Granted, it’s been an auspicious year so far. Almost all I’ve attempted since toasting 2012 has turned out pretty well. Okay, spectacularly well. Naturally, then, I’ve downgraded the wins, reasoning that the successes I’ve experienced can only mean that the endeavors were simply too accessible. From my twisted, inane perspective, second place has somehow become my benchmark for true success; to run and nearly win suggests that the bar was set at the appropriately unattainable height and that I did as well as I could, bless my heart, given the impossibility of the target.
So I’ve raised the rejection stakes and am hoping for a second or even third place nod at this weekend’s Orange County Christian Writers Conference in Newport Beach. I’ve submitted thirty- to fifty-page excerpts from my thesis novel, Time of Death, to three fiction contests sponsored by editors and publishers attending the event. I’ve compared the act of sending out these pieces, these fragments of my soul, to being all dressed up and standing in the dark at a junior high dance, willing the boys on the other side of the gym telepathically: Pick me…please pick me. Just don’t pick me first.
I’ve always understood that getting comfortable with rejection is crucial if we harbor any hope of being invited to read our work for an esteemed audience, winning an award, or getting published. But perhaps there is a point at which we’re too comfortable with it.