@Daedalus – that’s exactly what I am getting at. It’s often about a mismatch. And there can often be luck involved, too, though also we can all create some of our own luck. A lot of writing that does not get taken is not picked up because it’s not yet at a professional standard in terms of craft and technique, or because it’s simply unlikely to rouse readers – it’s a bit too flat or unexceptional, or it’s just not where the market seems to be at the moment. Who can predict the market, though? There are often surprises no one really predicted.
@alanr – being positive, and realistic, is important. Creating some of our luck also means being at least a bit cheerful some of the time – no one in any workplace wants to work with a misery-guts! There really can be an element of professionals taking an interest in the writing because the writer seems like someone you like and someone you want to work with. Still need that magic project to let the talent shine, of course.