My class in Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy has resumed again. I teach this three times a year, eight weeks a session, at a local arts center, Writers & Books. My students are all motivated adults who want to write professionally (a few already do). As usual, I have about half "regulars" and half newbies. Next week we start critiquing eacch other's work, Clarion style.
After doing this for a great many years, and reading the SF magazines for even longer. I've noticed something curious. Some of the stories I see in class seem to me better than some of the ones I see in the magazines. Now, this could be just bias on my part, since some of these students are also my friends. But I don't think so. I think something else happens in publishing, which is that you have to be better at the beginning of your career than you do later on. At the beginning, when your ms. turns up in a slush pile, it does not get the benefit of many doubts. The editor or first reader, having read some truly dreadful stuff in the slush pile, doesn't allow a beginner the same automatic, if partial, suspension of immediate judgement that he will allow to a pro, who he knows can tell a story. I think a lot of pretty good work thus gets dismissed too early. Also, a beginner's name on the cover of a magazine does not sell copies. Robert Silverberg's, or Charles Stross's, or Connie Willis's, does.
Finally, editors, being human, sometimes just flat out make mistakes. My most famous story is the novella version of 'Beggars In Spain," which won a Nebula and my only Hugo. It was rejected by the first editor who read it.
If you're a beginner, that rejected story of yours may be better than you think. Hang in there.