Submitted for your approval: one Steven Roman, who in the mid-1980s wrote a short story that he discovered had no place in…The Twilight Zone.
In the 1980s, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine was a publication that was half glamour mag and half literary anthology—coverage of Hollywood’s latest science fiction and fantasy productions, balanced with short stories by some of the genre’s most well-known writers as well as some up-and-comers who went on to big careers.
As a fledgling writer, I figured why not try out for it? So I got to work on “Night Visitor,” about a man haunted each night by the spirit of a boy who drowned—no matter how far the man ran, the spirit followed him. I forget how the story ended (I no longer have a copy of it), but I was pleased enough with the results to mail out a copy to TZM’s editors.
Unfortunately, as you can see here from the rejection note I received, it wasn’t quite up to their standards. Sure, I was disappointed, but blind submissions to magazines and anthologies are always hit-or-miss. At least the note was an encouraging one, which I appreciated. It showed I had some talent in telling a story. Still, as the late TZ creator Rod Serling would say, “File this one under ‘Better luck next time.’”
My point here is that rejections go along with being a writer. If you get one, treat it as a badge of honor instead of a mark of failure, because at least you tried to get your work out there. And when you do get published, it makes the efforts you made along the way—and the rejections you collected—all the sweeter.