The ghost story I'd submitted to a competition came back this week, with a blank little compliments slip! I didn't reel from it as badly as I might have, as I had had realistic expectations.
Having said that, I was disappointed. Who doesn't want confirmation that they have done a good job? Also I had entered, in part, because I had heard that entering comps is a good way to get feedback, yet there was none. Did I miss by a mile? Was it liked, but not enough? Did it lack originality? What flaws were in the writing? I tried to divine meaning from the fact it was away for nearly four weeks - is that significant? Had it escaped the first purge, or is that just standard? I was left feeling frustrated.
Even a setback like that, I want to improve my writing. That's the whole point, surely? I can't imagine ever not writing; it is the most absorbing, satisfying thing I do in life, and the highs are intoxicating. It makes me squirm to think of it as just a hobby, but if I don't meet any success, I suppose that's what it will be to me - urgh! Before I resign myself to that, though, I want to have really tried. I want to improve my skills and push myself to new limits and use the talents and gifts I have. How can I improve without feedback?
I wonder, do people just keep sending work out into the void, and one day it mysteriously improves enough to please the right person at the right time? That seems hit and miss. I want to trim the sail as I go until I only need slight nudges here and there to stay on course. I don't want anyone to shoot my dreams down, but when do you ever find out if the hours you spend and the passion you put in are worth anything to anyone else but you?