On Saturday, I ran into my old writing teacher in the library. I used to think this guy walked on water. He was smart, he was mysterious, he was a great teacher, he was thin to the point of emaciation. At the time, I wondered if he had AIDS. I was working at a hospital, it was the late 80s, and it seemed like everyone DID have AIDS. (Full disclosure: the reality was that he smokes a lot.)
I remember being so excited to go to class. The feeling of anticipation. I've seldom felt so alive.
I took two classes from him. In the first I was horrified to discover a woman from a critique group I had applied to join. They had turned me down, saying collectively that my writing wasn't good enough. I felt embarrassed and ashamed to be near her. I couldn't meet her eyes.
When I saw Ron, I asked if he ever had heard about Tom, this incredibly talented guy from class. Ron said as far as he knew, Tom had given up after a few rejections from literary agents. He told me, "You weren't necessarily the best writer." My kid cracked up at that, even as he added, "But I remember how determined you were, writing on your lunch hour." Of his 120 students, he thinks I'm the only one who ever got published.
So if someone has ever said you weren't good enough or you weren't the star of the class, it still doesn't mean you won't be published.