Creating: Submission & Rejection vs. Lottery Tickets

 It is hard to dress your kids, send them out the door, put them on the bus, especially when they are your stories and poems. People are going to look at how they're dressed and judge your parental skills. You want to keep them home safe.

Don't do it, though - find a new metaphor.  I  use Lottery Tickets - it's a gamble.

At some point I had to give myself the credit I want so desperately from others (and sometimes receive.) I am good at things. I can string words together. Ask my daughter - I can tell a story. Her friends still drop into a conversation: "So what's your mom been up to...does she have any stories?" Remind me to tell you about the laundry room some time.  That's @lia's favorite.

But submissions, though...this is something you have to do for yourself.  You have to do it because once you've sent out that story or painting you bled, sweat, and cried over - once the kid is on the bus - you get to relive all the thrill and trepidation of grade school spelling bees and also something more. You aren't going to get a grade on this paper; no marks in red and suggestions on what you could do better next time. Well, sometimes you get that last one, if you're lucky. Mostly you get "Thank You For Your Time, and come back again," especially if you have to pay a reading fee.

Please remember this:  that rejection letter is actually better than a grade - it's validation.  You did a thing, and someone knows you did it, and you have proof. If you want to do this thing for yourself, please know: you have to fail. You have to fail several times. Failure means you tried, and eventually you'll get it right. The rejected story is now more valuable than the rest of them in your drawer. I'm saving up my rejections to wallpaper my bathroom one day. Don't for a minute think I'm joking about this.

My story Coloring Outside the Lines was the first-ever winner of the Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest.  I told you this one already.  Thanks again, Joe Maita.  It is so damn special to have my baby remembered 16 years later. I had submitted another piece and was not the winner of the 47th Short Fiction Contest, but Joe asked if he could publish my work anyway.  Of course he can.  I love his website and I hope we make each other look better with our efforts.

Jane says you should tell a story with every piece of artwork. This one is actually nonfiction.  The flugelhorn player is real as  you get. I was literally sitting in the middle of the party writing an email to a friend. Later when I re-read it (because I remain my own best source of entertainment) I realised I'd done it again. I'd lived a story.

Here it is.


  1. I don't think of submissions as my children so much as each is a part of me: a story I created, an attitude I projected, an opinion I released to spread. Rejections aren't fun since they're personal, but also, maybe the rejector isn't someone I could look up to, anyway. They couldn't see the glory in my work ...

    1. That is exactly it, Barney. It isn't personal, because they couldn't see the glory in your work. If they saw the glory and still denied you, then there may be a lesson available.


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