Last night the Kansas City Royals came so close to winning the World Series. I went to bed feeling so disappointed for this team that had a magical run through the play-offs and the series itself. At 4 a.m., I was wide awake and started thinking about the game. One run in the bottom of the ninth would have tied the game and given them new hope. The adage, Close does not count came to mind but then I decided that sometimes close does count.
For the Royals, it counts as a terrific accomplishment for a young team. They had a goal and almost reached it. Once they get over the hurt of the final loss, they have a lot to look forward to. Their fan base is as solid as a rock and a fresh slate appears next season. No way are they going to give up.
Still wide awake, it occurred to me that writers can also experience that Close does not count situation during the submission process of the stories, poems, and essays they write. Those who submit to the Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies are encouraged when they receive a notice that their submission has reached the final cut selection round. They are asked to sign a permission release form and return it to the editor. Hopefully, the editor reads the entire letter they receive because it also states that a small percentage of these final round stories will end up being cut. And then begins the waiting time.
When the congratulations letter arrives, the writer has final confirmation that her/his story made it. Time to celebrate, time to tell other writer friends, time to do the happy dance. For those few who didn't make the cut, it's definitely a disappointment. Should they pout a bit and tell themselves Close does not count? I hope not.
Instead, I'd rather they took the attitude that they almost made it. Their story was good enough to get to the final round and a few thousand others did not. It's time to take an objective look at the story and see if anything stands out as to why it did not get selected. Next, send it to another publication.
This is only one situation where a writer comes close to having work accepted and published but doesn't quite make it. It also happens when an editor returns a story with a rejection but adds a small personal note. When those 'encouraging rejections' happen, you know you almost got there. It's not enough to make you do the happy dance but it should serve to spur you on to continue writing and submitting your work. To me, it's a sign that should make you practice that old patience and persistance.
Sometimes Close does count!