Monday, November 17, 2008
“it’s not you, it’s me” (34,708 words)
Day #14 of my Nanowrimo run
Words today (so far): 2,267
Words, total: 34,708
Mood/status: content, optimistic
Today’s Nano trick: napping, white chocolate mocha, devastation in the plot. (And in that order.)
Oh, the writing’s gone so well. I had such a good weekend! My Friday went brilliantly, and then I stayed up rather late and kept writing… Saturday, too, went well, which set me up for a fabulous Monday. So I’m definitely feeling a writer’s high today, despite a little piece of email in my inbox.
If you were here for my August, you know that I prepared and sent a short story to a literary magazine, my birthday present to me. I was expecting news by mid-November, and here it was: in a polite, succinct email, they said no thanks.
I looked at the email. The email looked back. And I thought: shouldn’t I be more upset about this?
In writing circles, rejection isn’t a little noun on a page (or an inbox). When writers talk about rejection, it’s a man-eating monster, leveling careers and self-esteem, changing the path of literature and life… Really. People get very, very upset.
Which is understandable. All writers are vulnerable; all egos are a little soft. And even the kindest no thanks can feel like the junior high lunch room, when all the tables are “full.”
But I’ve also heard several people compare rejection to shopkeeping. You own a store, customers come in, they look around, they leave without buying something. And what do you do? You don’t close the store, you don’t chase them down, you don’t demand explanations, drink yourself into a coma, or tear up your dreams. It’s business as usual. The shop opens the next day. You’re still you.
This metaphor makes so much more sense to me. Maybe because in all the years I spent working in a bookstore, we had plenty of people leave without buying something, and I only chased a customer once. (She’d dropped her credit card.)
Maybe if the email had come on an off day, after a rough weekend, on top of a rotten week… if my protagonist were wringing her hands or simply missing… if I couldn’t string together my sentences these days, then maybe I would be devastated. But I have the utmost respect for this magazine, completely unshaken by their professional and kind email. So is there anything wrong? Nope.
I’ve tucked my short story into a corner for a while, handed her a roast beef sandwich, told her to put her feet up for a month or so. I’m not up to marketing research during Nanowrimo, but afterward, we’ll talk.
In the meantime, my novel’s plot is heating up. It’s exciting to watch, as a writer. And as a person, it totally fuels my contentment: my life is so much better than my protagonist’s right now! That poor girl. I’ll turn the tables eventually and give her a very nice epilogue, but it’s uphill work for her until then.—jl