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By M.J. BenjaminPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 1 min read
Top Story - February 2024
Photo by S. Laiba Ali on Unsplash

Just received my first rejection letter

in fifteen years

after fifteen years of creative celibacy

The (1) in my Gmail tab had my heart aflutter

before my brain could even say "Careful, girl,

We've been down this road before"

Nah, I welcome your congratulations

That prize money is in the bag

Yeah, I might fly out to do a reading

on my victory lap, to your adulation,

thank you

I assume my travel costs will be covered?


I'd forgotten the sting of "Unfortunately ... "

A template personalized with just my initials

(Pen names are not shields)

at the top to let me know it isn't personal

It feels personal

Out of over 600 submissions

mine was not the best

It felt Nobel-worthy, writing it

Turns out, barely noteworthy

Didn't even make the short list

What a welcome back after 15 years

And yet

Thank you for your consideration

Because I wouldn't have written a word

had I not been enticed, challenged,

to allow myself back in

after 15 years of self-exile

For just a few minutes of your time

my words were center stage

kissed the limelight


I'd be a hypocrite in my upset

Unfortunately, I too could pick a favorite

out of over 600

knowing it will break

over 600 "Dear [name]" hearts

So who am I to judge?

I am, indeed, just grateful for the opportunity

to write again

not because it proves

I can.

Because it proves

I did.

GratitudeinspirationalheartbreakFree Verse

About the Creator

M.J. Benjamin

English Lit graduate trying to reconnect with her creative enthusiasm after many educational yet spiritually-draining years of academics. Time for something supernatural, fantastical, occasionally maniacal. I welcome the challenge!

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  3. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  3. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

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Comments (18)

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  • Andrea Corwin 2 months ago

    Congrats! We can relate to this!! ❣️

  • Congratulations on your top story .

  • Excellent! I have been there many times and you captured that feeling perfectly. The sting of “unfortunately” you got it exactly right. And how it hurts in that moment but I love the uplifting feeling of it in the end. This was great!

  • Matthew Mccahey2 months ago

    Congrats on top story! Just being able to write is a blessing in itself

  • Anna 2 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!!

  • Aman Amine2 months ago


  • Lightbringer 2 months ago

    Nice poem

  • Hannah Moore2 months ago

    It seems like the more we put ourselves out there, the more "unfortunately" communications we are likely to get - perhaps amassing them is a trophy cabinet for our own willingness to try.

  • Safa Jama2 months ago

    Great going! Keep up the fantastic effort—congratulations!

  • Test2 months ago

    This is a beautiful poem. It is very relatable as well.

  • Celia in Underland2 months ago

    There is not much 'unfortunate' about it. Some arbitary bot filtered out whatever and less than 10% got to a human and even then. One like fries the other prefers a Ceasar salad. Yeah rambling. Sorry. You wrote. You can and you did. Great piece and so well crafted 🤍

  • Test2 months ago

    Great going! Keep up the fantastic effort—congratulations!

  • Lacy Loar-Gruenler2 months ago

    I hear you loud and clear, M.J.! You speak so eloquently for many of us!

  • Randy Baker2 months ago

    An acceptance letter can provide some validation and, hopefully, expand one's audience a bit. They rarely offer payment or quantifiable benefits, though. It's a double-edged sword, I suppose. Nonetheless, that "unfortunately" can sting a bit!

  • Christy Munson2 months ago

    The way you crafted this piece allowed me to feel every moment, too. Been there too many times. It has taken a long time to feel that a non-selection is not a loss. Love how you conclude. Looking forward to reading more from you. Congratulations on TS.

  • Gabriel Huizenga2 months ago

    This is a stunning work! A powerful reflection in the face of an undesired response...thank you for sharing!

  • Manisha Dhalani2 months ago

    Ah, the anticipation. Hoping for more acceptance emails for you!

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