I’ve been writing stories since I was five-years old. Since I was fourteen-years old, I have been entering writing contests, and I’ve had two short stories published so far. I’m sixteen now, and recently I entered my third writing contest. This time, though, my story didn’t win anything, and since I’ve had such luck with writing contests in the past, I’ve been feeling really down about it. I have a fairly low self-esteem, and writing was pretty much the only thing that I was confident about. I realize that if I want to keep writing in the future, I need to get used to rejection, but it still hurts. I was wondering, when you first tried publishing your work and got turned down, how did you deal with it? How can I raise up my confidence in myself and in my writing again?

Phyllis replied:

Welcome to the world of writers, and congratulations on the publication of your first two stories!  You are luckier than most.  I had my start writing stories for church magazines for children and teenagers (you can find a list of them, I believe, in the April issue of The Writer magazine–ask for it at your library).  Though many more were rejected than accepted, I found editors very helpful, and many suggested changes I could make so that they would be accepted.  I rarely wrote about religious subjects–mostly stories about personal or social problems.  It may be a good thing you have experienced a rejection, because one of my editors used to say that an author can “peak too soon”–get so used to acceptances that rejections throw him for a loop.  Most writers get enough rejection slips to paper their bathroom walls, and some actually do.  My secretary once counted up all the rejection slips I’d received in my lifetime (I keep track of sales and rejections in 3 big journal books), and the last time I checked, it was 10342 rejections.  You’ve only got 2!   Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing!

Posted on: May 8, 2009


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