Friday, June 4, 2010

Notes on Rejection

Thought for the day: Rejection. Oh god not that again. Thought I'd write this while I'm still thrilled with my story live on Spinetingler. What, you haven't heard? Go here now and read it. The Professor, a discerning reader who very often has a pained look on his face when he is forced to read my light and airy para-whatsit stories, said he spent an enjoyable lunch time reading The Red Tent. And thanked me.* Special note: He did not wonder aloud in my hearing why I don't write more things like that. Good man.

Full disclosure: Before I start this thoughtful teaching moment (note sarcasm) let me say that The Red Tent had very few rejections. It was worse. The magazine that accepted it first went belly-up, became a Dead Market, was not sleeping, a few weeks before TRT's publication date. I was crushed and did not send the story out again for years. I thought I had personally killed the magazine with my haunted tale of ice and snow (the fact that it is an homage to a certain Raymond Carver story might have been bad juju. But yes, I meant to do it. Why the hell not? I can't think of another sport that is more consumed with pride, desire and self-interest than mountain climbing. And So Much Water So Close To Home is a nearly perfect story, as the several movie adaptations demonstrate. It felt like there was enough water in that pool for my characters to swim too). When I sent it out again to the beautiful people at Spinetingler, I heard back in about 24 hours. You can imagine how I felt. I had probably just received non-interest for the umpteenth time from the literary 'zine I love to hate the most (…and still submit to every year, why?).

Why. Because anger/embarrassment/humiliation/disappointment/self-doubt/self-loathing is so much fun? Those are the good points! At the core of each rejection is my Secret Voice reminding me yet again that I'm not any good and never been any good and, at my age, never will be any good.

Some days that is certainly true.

Other days I write like an angel, decide to quit my day job and babble crazy-ass plot twists to the Professor or anyone else who happens to be around.

But most days what I do is decide it doesn't matter how old I am, what editors say, what new expression of boredom crosses my family members' faces. Fuck 'em all.

That's the mantra, the answer, the word. And as a result I am occasionally blessed with those days when writing is easy and the universe touches me on the crown of the head with all good things on the page.

Someone please remind me of this when I hear back from two places that have my stuff!