It has arrived.
A little while back I made my first ever literary submission. It was scary, and I had no idea what to expect, but I hit send on the email and decided not to think too much about it until I heard back. I ended up sending a short story to Tor.com, a science fiction and fantasy short form website. They do a lot of other things there, like cover some news and even have a publishing outlet, but I sent my story over to them for consideration as original fiction.
They have a track record of taking a long time to respond, so I waited somewhat patiently for around four months (submitted in August, heard back in December). That meant every time I opened my email I had this fear that I would see a response and it would be a rejection. This went on for four months.
Finally I received the dreaded note. My story was not right for them. Kind of what I was expecting. Now, a rejection in and of itself is a good stepping stone, I think. How can you move forward in something unless you fail a little bit, right? It makes sense, even though it is a little painful in the moment. So I'm glad to have that under my belt, and I'm sure that there are many more rejections to come. There already have been.
That's not where the note ended though, and I'm really thankful for the second part. Whoever read my story and wrote the response was kind enough not to just say "Sorry we don't want your story." No, the rest of the message was:
They really have the "no, but..." response down. A really encouraging note, which lifted my slightly crushed spirits. Also, I'm kind of excited to send them something else at some point. I just need to put a little more thought into what material they would want to see, instead of sending them whatever nonsense I have written down (ok, it's not nonsense).
So, rejection. It doesn't feel good in the moment, but it's an experience, and it means you are moving forward. Also, if you find yourself in the position of having to hand someone a rejection of some kind (be it a job or an invitation to dinner), try to make it a "no, but..." type of rejection for the sake of the other party. Trust me, it feels better that way.