Rejection is part of writing.
It certainly isn't my favorite part or something I look forward to, it's just part of the game. It comes in many flavors; everything from super bland form rejection letters to burn-your-face-off-spicy public critiques. Every once in a while though, rejection can be pleasant or even sweet. For me, all it takes is a little personal touch for a "No" to go from hard-to-stomach to easy to accept or even encouraging. I know that everyone in this industry is super, crazy, can't-find-my-pants busy and it's not realistic to expect personalized rejections on a regular basis. But for those who can pull it off, even the briefest personal touch can make a huge difference to us aspiring writers.
I've told you before about one my bucket-list contests, the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. If you write science-fiction or fantasy I seriously suggest you check it out. It's SUPER competitive but also super cool. Plus, entering a story into one of their quarterly contests is free!
I entered a short story into the 2nd quarter contest a while back. I didn't expect to win but hey, you don't know until you try, right? I had been a little disappointed about how long it took to get the results but I was pleasantly surprised that when I did get the notice that I hadn't won, it was a personalized email from the Contest Director. The email was brief but polite and obviously written specifically to me (as opposed to a form). She was even good enough to attach a word document of some quality writing tips by author David Farland (the tips were copy and pasted from a post on his website).
It was still a no, still a rejection, but one that was very easy to stomach. A little humanity can go a long way and I sincerely appreciate it when a professional takes the time.
A heads up about a couple cool writing contests going on write now (ha, I'm punny).
Writers Digest has their monthly short story contest prompt up and it goes something like this:
"A nosy man eavesdrops on his co-workers and immediately regrets it."
You get 100 words to tell a story. It's always a SUPER competitive contest but it's fun and it's free! Entries are due by August 27, 2012.
The other contest you need to check out is WRiTE CLUB. It's like fight club but slightly less bloody and with more metaphors. Check out the like for full details.