A drop in the bucket, you can say in your detached way. And I know it's true, in some small part of my brain or gut, but that objective part is certainly not in my heart. The rejections are residing there currently. Even if I know simple, obvious things like the judges are subjective and it might not be their style, or it's not right fit with the press, or you have to persevere, it still stings every time. It's petty, I know: The winning poet probably is a better poet than I am. But not having made the honorable mentions once causes me to doubt each of my poems' individual qualities, the collection of them, and the order. Everything.
I keep revising and submitting, though. Right now it's out five other places. (...awaiting rejection, my pessimistic side adds.)
Today, though, I got a package in the mail from one of the presses I submitted to: It's the winning chapbook of a contest that rejected my manuscript. A new twist to rejection--here, read what we think is better than your poetry. I also realize--I've got another dozen of these chapbooks on their way in the next year.
I wonder if I'll be able to read them.