The See-Saw

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Been feeling pretty good about myself lately, have to say.  Not with the fitness/weight management issues, mind you, but in terms of writing, I’ve been feeling ok.  Until yesterday.  The see-saw finally tipped down after about a month of praise, high hopes, and a steady stream of ideas for stories.  What prompted the tip?  Oh, you know…

Rejection.

Strangely, when I read the cursory and chilly email from the editor I wasn’t particularly bothered.  The editor did not specifically criticize the piece I’d submitted; it was more of a “it isn’t a good fit for our publication” type of rejection.  Ok.  Fair enough.  As the minutes ticked by, I dove into something else immediately knowing that if I sat and stared at the email, I would fall right off the see-saw.  The words “not a good fit” continually looped around in my brain.  Really, why not?  I wondered.  It seemed like a good fit when I sent it…What does she mean not a good fit?  Is that editor-speak for the story sucks and it will never be published?  Anywhere?  Ever?

You see where I landed:  Off the see-saw, head first into the dirt and wood chips.

Thankfully, my busy family life provided  a distraction.  After the kids got home from school, I had no time to sit around and mope.  Different story this morning.  When I opened my laptop, it was as if I had fallen into a cold puddle.  I stared at the blank screen.  All I could think of was:  it was rejected, rejected, rejected.  Had I aimed too high?  Where to submit it next?  When will I hear from the other editors I’d foolishly sent it to?  Should I get busy and write some other unworthy story?  Should I pour myself a big glass of orange juice or should it be a big glass of merlot ? (it’s 9:45 a.m.)

I worry that I will never find a home for this story.  This train of thought quickly cascades into any story.   I worked very, very hard on this one.  I will confess, I don’t always work so hard on things but this one was…special.  Did I break a cardinal rule of writing by thinking it was good?  Maybe I don’t know how or where to place my work – does anyone ever know how to do that?  Does everyone know but me?

I made some notes in my journal yesterday about submitting work to literary journals and magazines.  Of course, these publications always want you to buy issues,read them – get a feel for what they publish.  Of course, this is a great idea.  A wildly impossible and impractical idea.  I simply cannot afford to purchase copies of every literary journal out there; not even a few of them.  Some of them do publish excerpts or a select story or two online.  I always look for those.  I always read the submission guidelines and try to follow them to the letter.  I read the editor’s notes in Poets & Writers as well as those in Writer’s Market.  I try to glean as much information from these sources as I possibly can.

Am I doing it all wrong?  It would be nice to know so that I don’t fall off the see-saw and hurt myself.  I don’t mind the ups and downs.  I have a good supply of Gravol in the medicine chest.  Dizzying ups and downs are part of the process.  I don’t like falling off particularly but I understand it happens.   What I’d like to know, I guess, is how much body armour to wear OR what can I do to prevent myself from falling right off…every time.

Time  to climb back on the see-saw and get to work…

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2 responses »

  1. I have just found your blog by accident but so much of this seems very familiar! The picking apart every word, the need to lose weight/gain words, the wondering if it’s too early for wine – we writers must all be the same! Good luck!

    • Based on what I know and my interactions with other writers, yes! We are a tortured bunch; however, we can at least be comforted by the fact that we slog on in good company – we are never alone! I’m glad you discovered me. The WeeBanshee is feeling a little low today. Thanks for the encouraging words.

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