“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.”
– Robert Green Ingersoll
I’m a Loser.
I often blog about my writing successes on here. Last year, I wrote about winning first place in the essay category at the Chautauqua Festival Creative Writing Competition. Then, I went on to tell you about my first published work appearing in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and now I have a second story appearing in another Chicken Soup for the Soul book, which will be available in August of this year. Pretty awesome stuff, huh?
But you know what I don’t often blog about? All the other submissions I’ve sent in. Or better yet, all the rejections I’ve received. And trust me, there are PLENTY of them.
Yesterday, in fact, I received two rejections in one day. That contest I won first place in last year? Didn’t even place this year. The next Chicken Soup for the Soul book that’s coming out after the one in August? My story wasn’t chosen. These are just two loser-ish examples (did I mention they happened in ONE DAY?) but there are many more where those came from. I sent my boyfriend Richard a message yesterday saying “Okay, I’ve received two writing rejections in one day. Tell me I’m pretty.” (Yeah, I probably won’t be winning any awards for my sense of humor anytime soon either…)
Why am I telling you this? Well, after my rejection-filled day yesterday, something dawned on me. I had some pretty good luck straight out of the gate last year. Now, mind you, I’ve written all my life – as early as I can remember I was giving poems to people as Christmas gifts (did I mention that I’m also cheap?…) But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started sharing my writing publicly- starting with this very blog site you’re looking at now. After the positive feedback I received on my blog posts, I decided to take a chance at submissions. Lo and behold, I won that essay contest (my first submission EVER!) and then it was shortly followed by a call from Chicken Soup asking to print the story I submitted to them. Whoa! Talk about your beginner’s luck! But soon after those first boosts to the ego, the rejections started coming in. Magazines didn’t want my essays. I didn’t place in other local writing contests. My blog stats started dropping. And for a brief moment, I sort of felt like giving up. But you know what?
And why didn’t I? Well, I was one of the lucky ones who had been blessed with the feeling of winning. I knew that just because I “lost” a few times, that doesn’t mean that my stuff wasn’t “good.” It just didn’t get chosen this time.
I kind of have this theory. I think every life is filled with a certain pre-destined number of wins and losses. And I’m not just talking about writing submissions here. I’m talking about all that life has to offer – in your professional life, your creative life, your personal life – all of it. They’re not all going to be losses, but they’re not all going to be wins either. As far as this writing thing is concerned, I was honored with a few of those wins upfront. But in other aspects of my life? Those wins took a little while longer. I had to go through quite a few defeats before I got to the winning portion. In fact, I’m in the middle of a few defeats now. But you know what gives me hope?
I know that my time to shine is coming. I just haven’t gotten to the winning portion yet.
You get it? You buying what I’m selling here?
We don’t always get the wins up front. But that doesn’t mean they’re not coming. It’s so tempting to give up, isn’t it? It’s so hard to believe that the good stuff really is out there somewhere. But it is.
A few years ago, after my second divorce, I had pretty much decided that a “win” in the love department wasn’t possible. And then, out of the blue, I met Richard. And you know what? That wasn’t a “win” either. Oh, it is now, don’t get me wrong. But at first? Phew. Let’s just say ours isn’t your typical “their eyes met and it was love at first sight” story. (Well, it was for one of us…but I won’t get into that right now…) I could’ve given up on this too. And trust me, I wanted to. But somewhere deep down, I had a feeling that a win was coming. And you know what?
I was right.
Richard and I have what I’ve only dreamed about in the past. I honestly had no idea that a relationship could be this good. This sweet. This tender. This supportive. (WINNING!) But believe me when I tell you this – it was NOT easy. I had to take the losses before the win. Sometimes that’s just how these things work.
I’m so very glad I didn’t give up. Look at all the love I’d have missed.
Are you going through a loser phase right now? Hang in there, my friend. I have a feeling a win may be just around the corner. Just don’t give up before it gets here.
“Defeat doesn’t finish a man, quit does. A man is not finished when he’s defeated. He’s finished when he quits.”
– Richard M. Nixon