I got my first official rejection in the mail today. Surprisingly, I'm not all that upset.
At my first Pennwriters meeting, a lovely lady named Jan showed me an issue of a Christian Poetry magazine called Time of Singing that she had illustrated. I used to write poetry in my high school days, and thought, "why not just try?"
I visited their website and got their submission requirements and printed out three poems that I thought might be a fit, though in truth, none of them seemed very similar with those I had read in that issue. Most of my work covered topics such as teenage angst and newfound love and were not at the same maturity level that they were probably looking for.
Still, I sent off three that seemed the most "grown up", one dealing with nature, one about introspection, and one about the poverty issue in third-world coutries and our Christian duty toward them (this one probably would have been the best fit, had it not been just a little preachy). These went into the envelope along with a SASE, and I did my best to put the issue out of mind.
Today, approximately one month later I received a response, thanking me for my interest, but letting me know that my poetry wasn't the style they were looking for. Perhaps that was just her nice way of saying "You stink!", and if so, I'm grateful for her subtlety.
I'm going to take it, as Steven King did, as the mark of a true writer. Rejection is just a part of the process. It's proof that you're putting yourself out there.
And so, I'll file it away as tangible evidence of my rite of passage, and try again.