One of the things I tell myself, when I’ve got a short story out somewhere on submission, is that submitting a story to a market doesn’t mean that you’re asking for an absolute up-or-down verdict on its ultimate worthiness.
When you submit a short story, you’re doing the equivalent of sending it out on a blind date.
And we all know how blind dates work. A few of them are utter disasters, of the “I’ll never trust So-and-So to set me up with someone ever again” variety; most of them are the sort of forgettable evening that ends with a “let’s not do this another time” handshake and a taxi ride home; and every once in a while, you get fireworks. (Also, sometimes your best friend has a date with Mr. Forgettable Number 17 and meets the love of her life, because the chemistry between two people is a strange and unpredictable thing.)
So when your story comes back to you with a note saying “We’re sorry, but your submission does not meet our needs at the present time,” for heaven’s sake don’t take it as a polite hint that you should stop writing and take up train-spotting as a hobby instead. It was just another blind date that turned out to be a dud for reasons that were nobody’s fault.
What to do? Find another likely market, and send the story out again. Because — who knows?
Maybe next time, the fireworks.