"I worked so long and hard on this. Everyone I who saw/read it enjoyed it. I don't understand why [project] hasn't been picked up yet." Time has been invested. Money perhaps. There's been research, emotional ups and downs. Friendships gained and lost, maybe. Time not spent with others, but in solitude working, working, working. Revisions, imperfections resolved. New manifestations of what you originally thought your project would be. Point blank you've put a lot of work into whatever it is you're producing and at the end with hopefully more encouragement than criticism you're ready to put it out there. Maybe not yet for prime time but for consideration.
Maybe the work has earned you awards/grants, gotten you residencies and fellowships. Helped you get into graduate school. Won scholarships to go to events. Has been praised by others in the business and all those accolades seem like pieces to an inevitably positive conclusion.
So, you're ready to submit and show and hopefully get a response on what will make it all official. This work will be your debut. It'll be what allows you to cross the line from emerging to established. You're eager for the time to come when you can announce it's happening. But then an odd thing occurs. There are rejections, polite ones. Encouraging ones. But still, rejections. The praise is wearing thin, the well running dry. And confidence may begin to wane.
This isn't abnormal. I also won't say it's par for the course. With so many people creating how do you make yours stand out even after receiving what seems like cheering in your corner. This is when I tell you there are no guarantees. The exclusive graduate program, the grants, the encouragement is all great and positively necessary for some to maintain momentum but it's not a promise of what may come. This may entail more work, more revisions, more connections, more applications, more good tidings, more, more, more before the line is crossed.
The lack of guarantees can make even the most optimistic person veer towards the side of pessimism. But it can also be what keeps you motivated. It seemed, for me, whenever I was ready to give up on a piece, a larger project, step back, call it quits, say "not now!" a positive emerged. A publication in a small lit mag, a sudden acceptance when I thought after a year my submission had been lost in the ether of the interwebs, moving from waiting list to guaranteed for a residency, winning an award, being on a short list, getting scholarship after scholarship, requests from agents. All of it combined to make me push myself even more because there was the inkling that someone else, besides me and my friends/peers, saw something in my work that I felt only I had seen. And even if things didn't turn out on the positive of me getting that agent or winning that contest or fellowship and being able to step over that line to be a published author I knew that there was the probability that the more I continued and refined my work/skills that I was narrowing the likelihood of it definitely not happening.
So take every success for what it is, a success. And don't discount what may not amount to the golden ring at the time but how the work is being seen, understood, respected, admired, and that the more who see it the easier it may become to continue on because it's not simply you creating it's others seeing your vision and wanting it to succeed. It's not personal, it's rarely ever personal. But it is part of the larger picture that the only guarantee, is a decision made by you, as to whether or not you'll continue on.