Rejection Letter!

photo provided by geralt via Pixabay

I got rejected!

It sounds bad but I feel pretty good about it. It was a fast rejection of one poem, where the four other poems are still under consideration. I like to think those four brave children made it past the first round of screening, which is promising.

But also I just wanted to send work out and get back into that process of submitting, rejection, submitting, rejection, submitting – eventually, somewhere, acceptance.

I know from experience that something can be actually good but just not the right fit for the publication; I also know, from experience, that sometimes what I think is good is pretty terrible.

The last thing I know is that I am mostly good. It’s not just confidence that tells me this, but practice and application. And it’s not just internal validation, but external, from my peers (and somewhat from my audience, though I have infamous Opinions re. readers).

So here’s where I’m going to plug for writing with a community.

Editing for others makes you a stronger writer yourself.

When you analyze and edit, engaging deeply with a work with the intention of bettering it, you’re honing your creative acuity.

I can now, with around 80% confidence, evaluate a poem or short story and identify the strongest passages/lines/words. I can also hone what used to be vague criticism into something more pointed and directed, and therefore useful.

I help out my friends and then I return to my own work with a greater sensitivity to my weaknesses and strengths. Editing for others makes me grow as a writer. It forces me to pay attention to nuance and technique. And it drives me to match with my peers – forces me to shrug off complacency and strive to be better.

Rejection isn’t great.

But it’s not the end of the world. Everyone gets told, “No,” most of the time. What’s important is the cycle of writing, proofing, and sending out. What’s important is the habit of putting yourself in the world. Or at least a part of yourself. Or at least a shadow of yourself. Listen, start small. Stay small, if you want to. But the point is to start.

Just do the thing.

Being afraid of rejection was never my inhibiting flaw; laziness and apathy is what drags me under. So I’m probably actually one of the worst people to say anything regarding rejection, since it doesn’t sting me the way it does some others. But I actually take the rejection letter as a sign that hey, I submitted a thing. For once the apathy didn’t win. That’s kind of a victory on its own.

Mom Friend Override

Oh, my god, so, not doing things is kind of my thing. You know? It’s just so easy to not do things. Inertia is my home. I should be a turtle I’m so inside of my shell. And I like it in here. It’s cozy and warm and comfortable. I keep seeing self help/advice columnists and podcasts saying I need to grow and stretch my limits, but honestly, I like my limits as they are. I like flabby limits. I like not doing things.

But you gotta do at least a few things or else you’re probably actually a corpse, and sometimes it’s really hard. (AKA executive dysfunction, haaaah.) And this is just an extension of depression, in my case, but also in a lot of other people’s cases. Depression and anxiety can both keep you penned in and cooped up.

That’s when I like to engage what I call the Mom Friend Override.

You know what I mean; when it’s easier to do something for someone else than it is to do it for yourself. I can’t tell you how many times in high school I’d organize my friends’ rooms only to return home to a messy chaos. Or making those endless doctor’s appointment phone calls, or traveling through the different bureaucratic paths to get to the insurance cherry interview; grocery shopping, packing boxes, unpacking boxes – it’s all so much easier when it’s someone else’s stuff. The Mom Friend Override, which applies to non-women as well, BTW, a sort of social cheat code.

Because the fact is we’re not incapable of doing this stuff; we’re just incapable of doing it for ourselves*. And yeah, it can really suck and feel debilitating sometimes. I mean, maybe you’re that magical unicorn go-getter type that has an inexhaustible well of energy and self-esteem, but that’s not me; that’s not a lot of people. I have fucking phone anxiety. It is not a great look. Do you know how many times I’ve paced in front of a ringing phone trying to work myself up to answering? It is an ugly, ugly look. Nothing makes you feel smaller or stupider than executive dysfunction.

But, conversely, nothing makes you feel more like a superhero when you can Do The Thing for your friend. Or for a stranger, sometimes. Or even, if you really need that sweet, sweet self-esteem boost, for a nemesis. (When they go low, we go high, right? Just keep telling yourself that as you ride that achievement euphoria, and maybe you can forget how much you hate this jerk.)

OK, so, doing stuff for other people is all well and good, yay society! Yay friendship! But at the end of the day, even though you might feel better about yourself, you still have this huge stack of To Do things and none of them is ticked off.

The trick is to engage one of your friends’ Mom Friend Override, for you.

We’re social creatures and we live and die by social capital, AKA favours. The smiling quid pro quo. Find someone who you trust and love, and then barnacle onto them with all your might. I mean, as long as they’re into that. Non-consensual barnacling is a non-starter, folks. But some people will be like you, and will crave that validation of being the Mom Friend. The Most Heroic.

It can really suck to need help, but it can be transformative and beautiful as well. If you catch yourself hesitating when people hold out sincere helping hands, remember how good it feels to be the Mom Friend yourself. Let them pull you up; let them help you stand.


*I mean for my type of executive dysfunction. Other types, or other disabilities, etc, obviously this does not apply.