Sad day. The mail came, and it included my self-addressed stamped envelope from The Night contest. They only use those for the diminutive yet crushing slips of paper that say, "you will not even be mentioned, honorably or otherwise."
I mean, CAMON. I tell myself to be reasonable. There must have been hundreds of entries. Thousands! Let's say thousands. But the fact is: I had hope and now it is gone.
Because you have to have hope, right? I mean. I have to believe that my work can win all of the awards all of time. I have to put everything I have into it, or it's pointless. Leave it all on the race route, my running coaches always said. (God I wish I could go for a run right now, but it is dark and my neighborhood is not built for that.) So, I got attached. I thought for sure, that at least... a runner up? So many accolades for my "old writing," last year's stuff from the admissions committees--surely this year's better stuff had a chance?
I don't have children (and I can't even stand my cat most days), all I have are these words to send out into the world, and hope that they change it for the better, make me proud. Now the failure of this essay is on me, the hapless parent, who failed to adequately prepare--or did not give enough attention to--my progeny. This prodigal child, come back to me via a stupid little sliver of paper: not even worth a whole sheet! they tell me. And I haven't just failed these ten double spaced pages. The hummingbirds and bees that I loved so hard! have gone down with the ship as well.
This happens. This is what writing is about, what I want to be my future forever. Papercuts from the online journals who pay nothing, stabbings from the magazines I love so much, and an axe to the forehead from a contest that I felt I had sent my best. If I want to get through the rest of my life, I just have to learn to grit my teeth and lean into the blows.
I know rejection happens, which is why I turned around and sent it in to another competition before I'd even eaten dinner. And I packaged up another submission, that I'll send after I get paid next week. (Incidentally, these $20 fees really add up when one is trying to live on $100 a week. Can I really spend the rest of my life like this: page to page, stamp by stamp?)
So there it is. I'm going to bed early, after maybe crying for a little bit. It's been a long week, and I deserve it.