I suppose a catch-up blog post is far (far) past due as it has been so long since I have updated this old thing. But I wanted to write about rejection today, so the updates on where people can read my work will have to wait for a different (hopefully soon) post.
Sometimes I wish that writing was a more linear career. When I worked retail, I always knew the trajectory that I was on as long as I continued to work hard (and didn’t allow myself to get into too much trouble along the way). Cashier led to keyholder led to assistant manager led to manager… If I had stayed, I knew that I would either stay at that level or continue to climb. Sure, it was dull. But you always knew what your next step was.
Writing, though, is such a “one step forward, two steps back” sort of thing. The first half of 2015 (coming off of a fantastic second half of 2014) was really good for my writing. I was receiving regular acceptance letters and notifications that I had been nominated for prizes (that I didn’t win, but I’m being positive right now…). I received a personal rejection of my first full-length poetry manuscript from a (really) big press that said that they really liked the book and expected it to be picked up by someone very soon. I had a couple of presses that I like ask me to send work. I felt like I had finally reached that next step and had some good forward momentum going.
And then came June. For whatever reason, all of that forward momentum just stopped. The rejections started pouring in, the book manuscript started receiving form rejections from every publisher that I tried it with… I haven’t had a single acceptance of my work since June and I have kept quite a bit of it in circulation throughout that time. Suddenly it feels not like I’ve taken two steps back, but like I am all the way back to the starting line.
Now, I know that I am being whiny. This is just a part of writing. Rejections are a part of life for sure. When they start to pile up, though… When you are hit with negativity every day when you open your e-mail without at least a little spike of positivity, it can get to you. And unfortunately, I let it get to me just that little bit too much. I don’t deal well with landslides of rejection. I’ve taught myself over the years to be ok with rejections, to learn from them and move on. For the most part. The weird bit is that it isn’t even that long since my last acceptance. I’ve gone more than four months without an acceptance before and (mostly) shrugged it off. I think adding the full-length manuscript to the pot is what has changed it for me this time around, particularly after getting such a positive response from the first press that took a look at it. Every time I get a form rejection for that book manuscript, it feels like someone is telling me to quit and walk away. I know it’s a stupid reaction, but I just can’t seem to talk myself out of it completely.
For the last couple of months, I’ve felt like I was drowning when I thought about working on my writing. I have written very little and I’ve been escaping into things with very little literary merit. I’ve read a lot less “serious literature.” The thought of new stories or poems has given me minor panic attacks… I’ve just wanted nothing to do with writing. (I do want to give a shout out, though, to Unbroken Journal for notifying me last month that they had nominated a poem of mine for the Pushcart Prize. That was the one big bright spot in the middle of this stretch of rejections. And the first time that a poem of mine has been nominated. I’ve had stories nominated but not my poetry. So that’s quite cool. Big thanks to them for the honor.)
And so I’ve decided to do Nanowrimo again this year. I had seriously considered skipping it, maybe working on another revision pass of my poetry manuscript. More likely, November would have passed like the last couple of months before it – with little to no forward progress in writing whatsoever. More pity parties. More whining. So I leave it to Nano to kick my ass again this year. To knock me out of the doldrums and force me, kicking and screaming the whole way most likely, to write. To let the word count goals pressure me to carry on, not caring (as much) if the words that I am writing out are any good at all. I will be a rebel once again this year as I am not working on a novel. I’m rewriting a few old stories that I like the idea of but just aren’t there, revising a few older poems, working on some new prose poems and hoping against hope that some genuinely new longer stories will come out of this as I’m putting together a collection of prose as well and most of what I have so far tends towards the flash/micro end of the spectrum (yeah – another manuscript to start sending out. I’m a glutton for punishment.)
So, to those doing Nano this year – carry on. To those who don’t need crazy amounts of pressure to make them write – I am envious of you.
Oh yeah. And anyone know of presses looking for full-length poetry collections? I have one here that I think would be great for them to reject.
And as I went to publish this on my blog, I see no less than three unfinished drafts here. Guess I have some updating to do here over the next couple of weeks…