In February, I joined a record number of people in applying for Clarion West, a prestigious six week intensive workshop for promising writers in the Speculative Fiction genre. I knew my odds were slim and while most applicants spent most of March biting their nails, I was distracted by Pop’s diagnosis and the accompanying personal world shift. I *almost* hoped I wouldn’t get in because maybe I wouldn’t be able to go with everything that was going on. But then I really did want to get in because it would be an incomparable experience, a new community, an intensive opportunity to share critiques — to learn to be a better reader and writer.
I received my rejection letter this week. I archived it away and felt a sense of completion, regret, relief. But then curiosity got the better of me. And I started to look at the twitters. A few people wrote blog posts about their rejections. Some even posted rejection letters. In the middle, some said:
We realize this is a disappointment, but hope you will apply to Clarion West in the future as our readers ranked your work highly.
Then, like mine, it said:
We wish you the best with your writing, and hope you have a productive summer. Thank you again for your interest in Clarion West.
And all of a sudden, I felt terrible. I received no middle paragraph. No encouragement to try again. No high ranking from readers. So how bad was I? Is there another letter that states, “Please never apply again, you ignorant hack” putting me squarely in the mediocre tier, or am I that hack? Oh god, I’m the hack! What am I doing? Just why do I think that I have any talent at all?
Then I think, snap the fuck out of it. This is the biz, these are the breaks. Show them or don’t. If you’re going to whine, go crawling back into finance and put up with moronic, chauvinistic yes-men for another 20 years while watching your soul die.
On second thought, let’s just keep those rejection letters coming.