A few weeks ago, I entered Reflex Fiction's inaugural competition. The limit was 360 words on any theme and I put forward a piece called Rosemary on the Wind.
I got an email not long after the closing date to say that I hadn't been successful. Of course, I was disappointed but rejection is part of the writing process and whilst a younger me would have taken it as a personal slight, I've reached a place where I can wear those rejections like medals. They are proof that I tried and that I continue to try.
I barely had time to linger over the disappointment, being incredibly busy with multiple projects. I wasn't expecting to hear from them again, although I hadn't ruled out future submissions to their site. A second email arrived later the same day and caught me completely off guard.
The story didn't place, they wrote, but they liked it and wanted to publish it on their website. The message here, if you choose to see it, is that success comes in many different packages and when it arrives for you, it might not be the shape, size or colour you anticipated.
For me, it means that the story will be read. It means I don't have to labour over it, trying to work out what needs to change, trying to establish the one tiny detail out of a thousand that constitutes the difference between published and unpublished.
Credit to Reflex Fiction for offering feedback in this way because there are so many talented writers out there, trying to understand why their work isn't good enough. Often, the writing is good enough. Sometimes, it's excellent. It just happens that on that particular day, someone else's was better or another story spoke to a reader in a different way, or that your story just happened to be the 317th story about grief, or that this editor hates stories written in the second person.
Sometimes, it's just not your moment. Take it when it comes, in whatever guise it appears. Relish it. Cherish it. Then, set it down and start reaching for the next one.
Rosemary on the Wind will be appearing at www.reflexfiction.com sometime between the 21st and 30th of April. Best pondered over with a cuppa and some form of biscuit.
Until next time...