‘Failure’, like ‘rejection’ is such an emotive word. Whether or not you feel you’ve failed may depend on what you set out to do. Did you set out to win? Well, I suppose in terms of entering comps, we do set out to win/be placed. But I would not say it’s a failure if that doesn’t happen. Is it failure if you’re not ‘satisfied’ with your story/poem/scene? Well, in a sense, but, to me, failure sounds final. As if there’s nothing more to be done. But there is. Try again. Revise. Write something else. Keep going.
A few years ago I managed to hook an agent for a couple of picture books. He worked with me for a while, (which felt, mostly, very positive) and then tried to sell the books. He didn’t succeed. Did I fail? It was disappointing, but on the whole I regarded it as a hugely positive experience.
On personal taste in writing comps: a story of mine was recently placed in the Bath Short Story Award. It had previously made it to a longlist in another comp, and was not placed at all in another one. Also – a flash piece made it to the shortlist of Bridport one year, having come nowhere the year before. Subjective. How can it not be?
So, keep going, everyone (yes, you too, Bella!) and let’s keep encouraging one another. That’s one of the best things about communities like this one.