I got rejected yesterday.
I’ve been told that a working writer should never blog about their rejections, because editors and agents also surf the web. But this is supposed to be a blog about the writing life, and getting rejected is most definitely part of the writing life. It is also one with which I am waaay more familiar than I want to be.
I started getting rejected by professional venues when I was still in high school. Young Miss was the first publication to turn me down, although they did it with the words “lovely story,” scrawled in the margin of the form letter (this was back in the Jurassic, when all this was done through the mail). That note, incidently, sealed my doom. A Real Live Editor had read my story! And liked it!! I was rejected and over the moon at the same time, and more determined than ever to become a pro.
The tenth anniversary of that first rejection, I threw a party. For decorations, I took all my saved rejection slips and taped them together as a banner and hung it up in the living room. One of my roommates measured the thing and it came in at 55 1/2 feet, almost 5 and 1/2 feet of rejection per year. I was actually incredibly proud of myself. I still have that banner, rolled up. I unroll it for writing workshops to show the students what they’re in for. If they don’t run screaming, I figure they’ve got a better than even chance of making it as writers.
But somehow, this time, I’m having a harder time bouncing back, let alone recovering my sense of humor. Maybe it has something to do with getting an e-mail a few hours after The Rejection informing me that an old friend had just made the New York Times Bestseller list.
Congratulations. No, I mean it. My eyes have always been this shade of green. Really.
But then it comes down to the brutal truth. If I lie down under the disappointment, it’s over. And then what? I don’t have a back up career. Since I was 13 all I ever wanted to be was a writer. I went through college with that one goal in mind. When I was single, I paid the rent as a tech writer. After marriage, when I lost the tech-writing contract (cut-backs in the auto industry, ain’t it always the way?), I went full time freelancing and fictioneering (ooo, new word. How bad can things be?).
So, this is it. No grand summing up. No words of immpeciable wisdom or humor. Just another day. I will put on my big girl panties and deal, because I cannot bear to give up.