Usually, I have a pretty tough skin when it comes to rejection. After all, it is part of the writing life. But one particular rejection shook my confidence. It happened after going to a writers' conference. I pitched my novel to an agent and he requested a partial. Several weeks later, I sent the first three chapters of my manuscript to him. When a couple of months passed with no response, I sent a follow up letter. I never heard a peep from the agent. That crushed me and made me question my writing talent.
But shortly after feeling so rock-bottom low, the unexpected happened. I got word that my picture book story (which had been entered in three writing contests prior to the conference) had won a prize from the Tennessee Mountain Writers and an award from the Writers-Editors Network International Writing Competition. Several weeks later, this same story also won First Place in the Juvenile Writing category presented by the Alabama Writers' Conclave. This round of good news encouraged me, especially after reading a note from the AWC Contest Chair: Congratulations on a nice piece.
If I've learned anything over the past twenty years, it's that being a writer has its highs and lows. When the writing life takes a dip and cruises downhill, hold on tight. Ride out the low times—those times filled with self-doubt, those times brought on by rejection.
Try to stay positive. Enter contests to build your confidence. Submit your writing to magazines. Keep writing in spite of rejections. Quitting is not an option. Know that in time, the downhill ride will soon climb to new heights.