I didn’t win.
Recently, I entered a popular humor writing contest. I read the rules multiple times; I made sure that my entry conformed exactly to the guidelines; I was certain that I had captured what the judges were looking for. I was wrong.
My take-away message? I’m a loser and I’m not remotely funny. I even have the contest results to prove it!
Okay, I know that I’m over-reacting, but rejection still stings. When I first started out as a writer, I experienced this feeling of displacement a lot. Every returned manuscript, every rejected pitch, every contest loss, made me doubt what I was doing and wonder if I should throw in the towel.
Experience has taught me that there’s a niche out there for each type of writer; the goal is to keep plugging away and trying new things until you find your place.
I’ve had some success as a poet, but I went through ages of self-doubt before I hit my stride. For years, I tried to write long narrative poems because I thought that was what journal editors wanted. And maybe they do. I’ve never been comfortable writing longer poetry though. I don’t even like reading it. Give me something over ten lines and I want to edit it down into three.
Discovering a vibrant short form poetry community on Twitter was a godsend. I’ve learned to let go of my poems and stop worrying so much about publishing them. Enjoying the process of writing has primed my mental pump.
But it still hurts to lose. Expanding my writing into a new genre has opened up a whole new avenue of self-doubt.
So, I’m going to spend today wallowing in self-pity and chocolate. But tomorrow, I’m going to dust myself off, hold the line, and continue writing. I trust that eventually I will find my place.