Rejection is an ugly (and necessary) part of any writer’s life.

We’ve all heard the stories, the ones about writers whose (now famous) work was rejected dozens, hundreds, even thousands of times before some brilliant editor finally saw its potential and gave the writer a contract.

Any writer who submits his or her work on a regular basis is no stranger to rejection, and (as the stories tell us) writers often know precisely how many times a particular piece was turned down before it finally made the leap into print.

But how many of us remember our very first rejection? I do.

I was in the second grade. My teacher had submitted a story I’d written to some magazine (I want to say Highlights, but it was probably something a lot more obscure) that normally used “real” writers but was doing a special issue that would feature the work of children under a certain age (maybe twelve?).

They rejected me.

The thing was, they rejected my work, not because they didn’t like the story, but because they didn’t believe a child had written it. The letter said something like “Because this is clearly the work of an adult, we cannot possibly consider it for our special children’s issue.”

Ouch.

I cried in my teacher’s arms and said, “But I’m only eight.”

I don’t know why we didn’t appeal the decision, try to convince the editors that I was, in fact, well within the age limit. I just know that nothing ever came of the submission—and I was (and, if I’m honest, remain) profoundly disappointed.

Rejection hurts, and nobody wants to go through it. In fact, I’ve met some people who won’t even submit their work—that’s how afraid they are of rejection.

But if you want to be a writer, you can’t just keep accumulating work, letting it rot in your drawer or on your computer. Eventually, it needs to get out there, test the waters, find a home.

If you’re one of those writers who avoids submitting because you’d rather not face the agony of rejection, look at it this way: The first time (whether it’s having your writing rejected or losing your virginity) generally sucks. But at some point, you have to do it anyway.

So, my advice is: Just do it (my thanks to Nike for the pithy little slogan that works for pretty much anything).

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