Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On Receiving Rejection Notices

As I go through my mail, I realize that I’ve received a flurry of rejection notices this month alone. I've sent out literal stacks of query letters, sample chapters, book proposals, and synopses only to have a snowstorm of photocopied rejection notices return in the mail. All returned in the envelopes that I self addressed and self-posted postage myself. In a way, there is a slightly masochistic feeling in creating the vehicle for your own disappointment.

And I took this stack of failure and placed it next to my computer, unwilling to enter it into my excel spreadsheet database that keeps track of all of my mailings to publishers and agents. I sat doing other things. Not even keeping to my vow of constantly sending out three queries, proposals, synopses and the like for every one that I received back. I find keeping to this standard to now be overwhelming.

My father died recently and his death seems to have knocked the wind from my sails. I haven’t been able to write a sentence since his demise. I wondered on this fact. What did his death take away from me? What did I lose? What did I learn about myself and life in general? I don’t know. I just know that I have manuscripts that need representation. I have a novel that needs to be written and another book of poetry to self publish.

A friend of mine is reading this book about successful people and basically they explained to me that successful people do not accept failure. They look at failure as a learning experience. Not something to loathe or to be fearful of, but instead to learn and grow from. I understand this, but failure also saps at your inner strength. It saps your self confidence, it makes you doubt your ability for success in the first place.

What is there to learn from this? What is there to learn from the undermining of your underpinnings? What is there to learn from having taken that which gets you up in the mornings and put pen to paper? My friend goes on to relate: dammit, FIGHT! And I guess, that’s the final lesson. White hot ambition, that will not allow anything to quench it’s fire. A steely determination to walk through walls and barriers between yourself and your goals. Ignore the failures and struggle for your success. Take no prisoners, give no quarter.

So I got up and entered my rejections into my database, and then I sat down and tried to write. I wrote a sonnet, sat back, pleased that I had done something, and then my laptop crashed.

Therefore, what did I learn from this?

Simple. The writing life, for newborn and struggling writers, is a bitch.

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