Friday, May 28, 2010

My First Rejection

So I didn't win the contest with the awesome prize of a 10-page read by Regina Brooks. Does this mean I curl up with a box of Ho-Ho's and cry uncontrollably? Or trash my entire novel because the first 200 words failed to grab the judge's attention? No and no (although don't me get wrong, Ho-Ho's are awesome). I've been doing this too long to let a blog contest get me down.

How long have I been doing this? Well, I won't get into actual years, but let's say it was before blog contests existed. Or blogs. Or the internets.

But this current rejection made me think about my first big rejection, and that's actually a pretty good story. So I'll share.

I was an English major at UCLA with vague plans of being a writer. I heard about a creative writing class taught by Irish author Brian Moore. This class was an audition class ... everyone had to submit a story and the names of those admitted to the class would be posted on a bulletin board shortly before the class was slated to start.

I don't even remember what story I submitted, but chances are it would make me cringe now. I do remember the day I went to the English office and saw the list of the chosen few. My name was not on it.

Bring on the Ho-Ho's.

At least, that was my first reaction. I wanted to go to my room and cry, but my roommates knew how much I wanted to be in this class and I didn't want to have to tell them that I wasn't good enough. And probably never would be. And maybe this writing thing wasn't meant to be.

I decided the best place to avoid human contact and lick my wounds was at Powell Library. (BTW, libraries are among the best refuges for a wounded soul that I have ever found.) I ended up in Periodicals and read a couple of short stories.

And that changed my life forever.

Because I knew that I could write as well as the authors who had published those stories. At least, I knew I could if I kept at it. The Brian Moore class was just one class. I would submit again the next quarter. And the next. Because I was a writer, dammit, even if I was the only who knew it.

I headed to my apartment, my belly full of fire as I resolved to stick with this writing thing come hell or high water.

And then a miracle happened.

One of my roommates had a message for me. Brian Moore called. He made a mistake. My name was supposed to be on the list. I was welcome to enroll, if I still wanted to. (Hell, yeah!)

But the important part, even more than getting in the class after all, was my determination to stick with it even when I thought I was Mayor Reject of Rejectville.

And that's the part I try to remember with each returned SASE, each form letter, each lost blog contest.

Because I am a writer, dammit, even if I'm the only one who knows it.

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