I set an all-time record not long ago. In a span of twenty minutes, I received three rejections. Two were no-thank-you’s in response to essays I’d submitted to literary journals. One was a letter explaining that the highly acclaimed judge of the competition I’d entered had decided not to award a prize this year because no submission deserved one.
Now, we writers are poor, pathetic, pitiful, sensitive creatures who feel things deeply, so I had to spend a good part of that day feeling sorry for myself.
But then. I sat down at my desk and started writing again. I wrote because — well, because, deep down, I know that nothing I write is ever as wonderful or as terrible as I think it is. The megalomania and the despair are both part of the writing process. These feelings — in their glorious grandiosity and utter abjection — are not only normal; they’re useful. They keep us striving. They lure us back to the desk again and again.
I can revise this dreadful thing and make it better.
That last chapter I wrote was so fabulous, I’ll just write another one.
Here’s what else I know for sure: In the end, the true prize is losing ourselves in the absolute pleasure of finding one good word.
Judy, you are the most emotionally honest person I know and it’s what I’ve always admired about you.
It makes you a wonderful friend and you’ve been a huge influence in my life. I love your phrase “the absolute pleasure of finding one good word”. Thanks for sharing.
Paula! This might be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me! Really, thank you so much for your lovely words. I am just as glad to be your friend.
Wow, three in twenty minutes! And one of them such a slap in the face! I will remember this, when I get some rejections, and take comfort in knowing you had it worse. Unless of course I somehow manage to surpass this record, in which case I’ll claim bragging rights. :)
Alysa, I’m not sure it’s a compliment that you’re impressed by my 3 rejections in 20 minutes! However, you ARE nice to comment, and I hope you don’t even come close to my record! All the best to you…
My after-rejection-letter tradition is to drag my sorry behind back to bed, curl up in a ball, cry just a little, and rest for a while – sometimes overnight. Then, I get back up and attack the project again.
Yes! A fine tradition! Whatever gets you back to the project! This works!