Let’s face it, for any writer submitting their work for publication then rejection letters are inevitable. However, it’s best to think of these letters as the really are – a part of the journey, not the end of the road. With that in mind, I’d like to share an experience of my own I recently had along the way.
Back in July, I entered one of my poems, Shizaru Undone, in the New Millennium Writings summer poetry contest. (Incidentally, NMW runs simultaneous contests for Fiction, Short Fiction and Non Fiction as well). Like many contest entrants I checked their website periodically (sometimes a bit obsessively) and eagerly watched my email for the contest results.
The following October I received the email from NMW indicating the poetry winner had been named. To my great disappointment, it wasn’t me. With hopes still high, I quickly scrolled down through the email to the Honorable Mentions to see if I’d made that list. Nope. Still not there.
Well, I brooded (mildly) for a while before deciding finally to post the poem to my blog. Contest or not I wanted other people to be able to read it. At least then I might receive some comments from people who’d read it on it might have affected them.
Three days later, to my surprise and delight, I received a follow up email from the editor of New Millennium Writings, Don S. Williams, thanking me for my recent entry. Regardless of whether or not this was a form letter (and it doesn’t read like one to me), I for one appreciate the effort and the thought it took to send it at all. Not only did Mr. Williams take the time to follow up with me after the contest was over, but his message serves as a pleasant reminder that real people are sitting at the other end of those contest submissions sites. Depending on how many contests you may enter (this was only my fourth – two previous fiction and one previous poetry), it can be easy to forget.
So I didn’t win this time. Maybe next time, if I chose to try again. Maybe not. For now at least, I feel good about having tried just the same.
Thank you, Mr. Williams!
(With permission, I’ve included the complete message below.)
Congratulations on Your Fine Showing in the New Millennium Writings contest…
Nov. 5, 2009
As one who often enters contests I know how it feels to send a piece of writing off and never hear back. So here’s a note to let you know you did well in the New Millennium Writings competition that had a final deadline of July 31, 2009. Although you didn’t win, you were one of the writers who made it to the next to final round of judging in our always competitive awards contests for poetry, fiction, short-short fiction and nonfiction. About 100 poems made it to the semi-final round and were selected from some 1,000 total poems. Read past winners at www.newmillenniumwritings.com. The quality in our contests is high, and you should be proud of your accomplishment. I am. Feel free to print this letter or email it to others.
In answer to frequently asked questions…
* “Shizaru Undone” was the work that made it so far.
* Your strong showing does not disqualify you from re-entering your work or any other work unless they previously appeared in a book or magazine with over 5,000 circ.
* Works that have appeared only online are eligible too.
* Yes, you may enter in this contest (or any other contest as far as we’re concerned) as often as you like.
* Watch for your free book to arrive in about one year.
Mostly, though, I just want to congratulate you on your fine showing and express my appreciation for your interest in New Millennium Writings.
Don S. Williams
Don Williams, Editor and Publisher, New Millennium Writings