Overall, I feel somewhat better. This improved vigor is dampened, however, by the release of the latest round of rejections from Clarion West. I've been getting to know these hard-working, bright people who seem to have a lot in common with me (for one, a lot of them teach = much respect). Speaking from last year's experience, rejection is hard to take when you've pinned your hopes and plans for the future, or at least your summer, on something that may not happen. And, unfortunately, the kindly worded rejection doesn't shed much light on the reason your work wasn't selected.
After the rejection I got last year, I did some real soul-searching in order to determine for myself the extent to which "the Clarion dream" was just a foolish fantasy (for me). Did my work merit the time the readers put into it? What did it lack? What could I do better? What books should I read to improve? And worst of all, should I just give it up?
For me, anyway, the answers to most of the questions didn't matter. I had done all I could at that point, except work more consistently. As for the last one, writing is important enough to me that I won't be stopping.
To my fellow hopefuls, please take heart. Don't stop. Not ever.