So March could be a very big month in the rejection letter category. I’m due to hear back from the first competition that I entered. Previously I had dabbled in general submissions but never contests generally because they required a reading fee and presumably drew more attention therefore lowering my chances of discovery. (But seeing as editorial work is highly subjective no one can prove any theory relating to when or where a first offer of publication will come from.) But sometime last fall after combing the last issue of the year from Poets & Writers I realized that I had enough material to enter a poetry manuscript competition. And it was to be judged by my favorite living poet, Thomas Lux.
Filled with an ecstasy that had nothing to do with probability of winning or the practicality of the situation or any such thing or theory I set to work rounding out and organizing what would turn into my poetry manuscript. Packed up my baby. Wished it luck. Kissed it goodbye. (Literally.) And sat back to be my very own rejection letter from Thomas Lux.
Man, did that confuse people. First I got the “You want to lose? Don’t you mean you want to get a letter saying you won?” Of course I want to win but I’m a realistic person. Not everyone can win. So I won’t set my hopes on it. This was followed by “Oh, so you just want a letter with his signature on it.” No not really that either. Since I fully expect a form letter not signed by anyone at all. Depending on the volume of entries perhaps it will have gotten the autopen from the contest organizer. So no, this is not an autograph attempt. As a side note, I’ve never really understood why people chase autographs. I’d much rather just say that I have seen someone or talked with them or whatever. I already keep way too many little pieces of paper no point in more of them for me to lose. Return from side note: So by this point my friends are totally confused. Except the ones that are writers themselves. They never asked a single question about my desire for a rejection slip. They just nodded at the beginning completely understanding that the thought that this manuscript was out there being read by someone – someone I actually admire! – was completely awesome.
So when the little postcard came back in the mail letting me know that the manuscript had arrived in the mail and some poor worker bee had dropped my card back in the mail, I was excited. One step closer to the Thomas Lux Rejection Letter! But now my excitement is starting to fade. Why? Not because of something I’ve heard. My problem is that the check for the entry fee hasn’t cleared. My check I sent along with a different contest has cleared. Cleared very quickly. Free money. Candy from a baby. Cash my check already!
Even more annoying? I’m trying to close that checking account and this is the only outstanding check. Grr.
But it’s also making me nervous. I know the entire package got there or the postcard wouldn’t have found its way home to me. (Is it possible that some how it came home through another means? Yes but I really don’t want to go there.) Now my biggest fear: the entire thing got rejected, not even looked at, because I did something stupid like not including enough envelopes or something for reply. It’s one of those contests where every entrant gets a copy of the winning book if they send an envelope with enough postage (I think, I could be confusing it with the other contest) and now I can’t remember which is which and whether or not I sent another envelope for reply prior to book publishing. Damnit people, you really can’t do this to me; I'm a writer and therefore -- by definition! -- slightly neurotic.