This morning I got an email rejection.
I had been waiting for a response from this person for months. I felt that I had used their feedback to elevate the work. I knew it was good. And it was, just not good enough. And the pain is just acute enough to make me question the relevance of continuing on.
I’ve had a well-received work of fiction published, and several works of non-fiction. I’m not a bad writer, by any stretch of the imagination. But I have been watching writing friends of mine go on to better publishing deals, garner accolades, New York Times bestseller status, and scores of fans, while I sit at my desk struggling. For a while, I was a bit jealous. I knew that they had worked hard for what they got and I was happy for them, but their success made me feel worthless. And then this weekend, I just let go. It’s not their fault they’re better writers than me. It’s not even my fault that no one seems to want my work. It just is.
In letting go, I foolishly believed that I was opening myself up to better things, and that simply by dint of being all zen about it, that the good things would come. And if you know my life, you know that there has been no good news for a while, in fact there has been month after month, year, after year, of bad news both personally and professionally. And every time, I put on a brave face and look for the silver lining. It’s there. It’s always there. But can I live my life on silver linings?
My reward for letting go this weekend was finding a mug I thought I’d lost years ago. It’s a Paula Wiseman mug that has my name on it along with the names of several other authors published under her imprint the same year as ANGEL’S GRACE. Having had my heart broken by signs I thought I saw, I was determined not to take this as a sign this time. I was determined not to have hope. But evidently, some hope had seeped in that the news would be good.
And now that it’s not, there are only two answers: I will continue writing, or I will stop.