Thursday, October 6, 2011

When Rejection Makes Us Young Again

For the writers among us who want to be published (and for everyone who has ever been spurned, or loved):

A request for a full manuscript offers the same giddy anticipation of Christmas morning—a package waiting to be opened. Will it contain coal, poo, or something shiny? It is hovering, an energy waiting to be born. A stone on a hillside waiting to be pushed. A request feels like the lurch of sighting the admired boy in the lunch line, seeing oneself in window glass and wondering "Am I pretty today?" And then he turns to look at you.

The loveliness of that request, that look, can carry one through the day, like those lazy afternoons in high school when the boys streamed out across the playing fields and the sun fell low. There's a crispness in the air and everything is possible and melodious.

It's all longing, and all your youth is longing.

Then the rejection, sudden, which feels inevitable when it arrives. Always, there's a heat within it. It feels like a slap, but one devoid of any true anger and love. It's a slap that shouldn't sting, but it does—every time. There is an immediate urge to cover the screen or the paper with your arms, and you wish that they were swan's wings. Your heart is beating in your face.

The sting fades faster each time, but it's still a sting. Suddenly you don't want to look your children in the eyes. The day is beautiful, but you feel a bit faint and lifeless, like someone abandoned you at the dance. All that possibility. The lovely things that might have come to pass. Is there a fine place to hide?

You remember what the boy said. He is your oldest son. He reads everything.

He says: "When is your book going to be published?"

"Not yet," you say. "Not yet."

"Well, you'd better be writing the next one in the trilogy. You'd better start tonight."


He turns in the doorway and adds, "I don't want you to write the next one. I need you to write it."

Your arms feel like the wings of birds at your side, this time not for shame.

The longing never goes. You are young, and want everything. People will say "no," and you still want. You have the recklessness of the toddler who smacks his head on the stairs in his efforts to climb. You continue to pet the dog that snaps at you.

Fool child, who keeps climbing trees and falling out, falling with tarry hands and brambles in your hair and the taste of the moon. Good for you. Someone should still be climbing trees on this earth.


Brodie said...

Alrighty. So I read this post and then backread some of your others and I'm thinking that your son is seriously onto something. You better keep writing those novels, because you write so damn well. I really do hope we see you in print some day!

This is such a fantastic post and so beautifully written <3 And it rings so, so true. In writing, in love, in an dream we follow, really.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Yes, those fulls and partials hanging out there feel like hope and possibility. The rejections feel like a pinhole in your balloon, but at the same time, one agent's rejection is leading you to the next agent, who might be a better fit. There's still hope and possibility involved, it's just going to sting at first.

Marewolf said...

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that you will be published one day, my friend.

You are brilliant (obviously).

It's just a matter of time. :)

Angela V. Cook said...

That was absolutely beautifully written, my dear pony. You captured exactly how if feels to get a request. That high can last for days, but unfortunately, so does the low from the rejection that ultimately follows.

p.s. your kids sounds awesome. This is how the conversation goes with my ten-year-old boy:

son: Did you get an agent yet?
Me: No, not yet
son: What's taking you so long!
me: *utters low growl and gives son look of death*

Anonymous said...

I can't WAIT to read your trilogy. You are amazing.

Anonymous said...

Oh my Pony, you almost make me look forward to rejection. ALMOST.

Anita Grace Howard said...

You have a gift. Period. One day, the world will get to open it, and will NEVER cast it aside.


Thank you for sharing your beautiful words. :)


Jenny Phresh said...

Thank you, all of my remarkable friends! You inspire me every day.

cherie said...

I am late to the party, but I just wanna say: I love you. You are brilliant, and your little boy knows it. We all know it too. You'll get there, love. You will.

Huntress said...

Oh. My.
*wiping tears*

Beautiful post. Thank you for the treat. Must find tissue now.

Bethany C. said...

RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER. Your agent is coming--I can feel it! You are TOO STINKING TALENTED to go unnoticed. It's a matter of time--just keep climbing.

Tracey M. Hansen said...

Great post! The ups and downs of writing. What a roller coaster! I think I might make a collage out of my rejections. A reminder that at least someone read what I wrote.

Jennifer said...

I am certain that I will be purchasing your book someday. Thank goodness for our children who keep us inspired and hopeful!

Catherine Stine said...

Beautifully said!

Sam Southworth said...

Make no mistake: you do have your limitations, such as a certain inner focus that causes you to back into displays at the store and fall into holes, but you are the smartest person I know, the best editor and the best writer as well. And you're a great mother and a cracking fine wilderness canoe partner. And a darn nice friend! It's all going to work out, and in ways that are hard to foresee, so keep your lamp trimmed and burning, Pony. We are in your month, and this is your patch of landscape. You are part of every good thing that grows, as the song says, and you illuminate and expand our worlds in ways that are unique and wonderful.