It’s been sort of a terrible week. I spent 3 hours waiting in a scary train station parking lot last night for Brian to navigate the broken down and delayed system back. I have received a quick rejection letter and am feeling downtrodden about it – my 16th this year. There is an army of ants who are attempting to take over my desk at work. Brian has been ill and I’ve been doing my best to take care of him when I’m actually home (which isn’t much). The weather is over 100 degrees and melty.
It’s one of those times where I wonder if running away like I tried when I was five is still possible. But most days I really like my life. The law of large numbers just insures that sometimes all the crap is stacked up in a single week like this.
I have been reading Storyteller by Kate Wilhelm, one of the founding teachers at the Clarion Writer’s Workshop. It’s a lovely book, part writing advice and part memoir, and it’s taught me some stuff already. You know, besides igniting all the regular yearnings to one day attend Clarion into a fervor. I’m going to rewrite the ending to the story that was rejected and see what happens next. I’m also itching to get my hands on some inexpensive used paperbacks so I can start dissecting the authors I love and see if I learn anything. Which I thought I would never voluntarily do.
Friday is my day, though. The Redlands bowl is having its last performance of the season, which means William Tell and fireworks. Totally my thing. Couple that with some kitten cuddles and I’m sure I’ll be feeling much better by the time next week rolls around.
There is nothing going on at home this week. I know. My life should be more exciting than this. It’s been over 100 degrees in Redlands, though, and so I’ve been hibernating in the air-conditioning as much as possible. A warmed-up dinner, a good book, a cozy husband, and a feisty kitten are the things happiness is made of lately. And maybe some Doctor Who – Netflix just put up the latest season. I like Peter Capaldi quite a lot as the Doctor – I liked him quickly too.
I have not felt able to speak much about the Hugo fiasco that has been going on all year. I’m not in that world and I don’t follow the Fantasy industry as well as I should. Those authors are mostly unfamiliar to me. But it did give me a bit of glee to find that competence and diversity won out, and that petty hatred and ballot-fixing did not. The Guardian has a lovely article on it, if you’re at all interested in the outcome: http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/aug/24/diversity-wins-as-the-sad-puppies-lose-at-the-hugo-awards?CMP=share_btn_tw. Most notably, it seems that the Hugos have maintained their reputation and legitimacy.
It has been a few weeks of rejection (several stories returned), so I’ve been taking it easy on editing the novel. I keep thinking I’ve become inured to the rejection, and then I get several all at once and I find it’s not actually any easier to take. Not in large doses. It’s harder to accept constructive criticism when you’re feeling crappy about it all, hence the snails-pace. It will all happen eventually. I’m not terribly worried about it.
And that’s it from the land of Here. Sometimes no news is good news.
I’ve been sending out a lot of short stories, plaguing the editors of various literary journals with them. I WAS planning on trying to meet a goal of $1000 earned from writing this year. It has come to my attention, though (mostly through trying and getting rejection letters) that a monetary goal was perhaps too ambitious. I am now going for 5 stories published, 1 paid for. That goal still seems ambitious, but it seems like something I can meet. And it’s mostly about exposure, not dollars. Much better.
I have gotten to the point where a “no” hardly phases me. In the early days, it never seemed that I would be able to take rejection after rejection with indifference. But get enough of them, I suppose… When people ask me about it, I tell them that I’m pretending rejection letters legitimize me as a writer. After all, doesn’t everyone published have a stack of old letters that say no somewhere? Shannon Hale has taped hers into a scroll and unfurls it at school events. Stacey Richter and friends decoupaged theirs onto a chair, a footstool, and some beer cans. Anita Shrive was going to paper her room with them.
The thing is, I’ve gotten a little happy about rejection letters. Why, you ask, would I be excited that my stuff isn’t going to be published? Because I am getting the second tier of rejection letters now. These are not the cold “we regret to inform you that we cannot use your story” letters. These are the warm letters that might begin with “cannot use…” but contain a thank you and end with something like “please continue to submit.” Yesterday I got a rejection that was not a form letter at all, but a nice, personal validation that I was on the right track (although they were refusing my story because they didn’t feel the ending was original enough). They called the writing “beautiful.” If that isn’t a rejection letter to be proud of, I don’t know what is.
I mean, it’s still not an acceptance. But on the great climb to becoming a published girl, this is a milestone saying that I am getting somewhere. I may still be close to the bottom of the mountain, the scenery may all look the same, but I have traveled. I spend so much time alone at a computer banging my fingers against the keys that it’s hard to recognize sometimes. But there it is in the nicer set of rejection letters; my progress.