Rejection comes from the Latin re-, meaning back, and iacare, meaning throw. One of the things I forget about rejection is that it is instigated by action. Rejection is, at least most of the time, a reaction. It does not exist alone. What I think I forget more is that it is not final. I mean it is. If you don’t get into, oh I don’t know, a doctoral program, the admissions officers don’t usually renege on that if you refuse to take no for an answer, but—but, that does not mean there is nothing else to be done.
How you react to rejection is important. You can let what has been throw back at you fall to the ground. Or you can decide to catch it, and do something else with it.
In December, my good friend Megan—who is a wonderful and extremely talented editor, blogger, writer, and the only reason this blog exists—took on a new mantle in my life: writing coach. She was able to do the one thing I really needed: give me a kick in the butt. She, much in the same way my dog got me running, got me writing regularly.
Every week we’d check in and I’d set aside hours on my calendar to write. For the first time in my life, I started thinking about writing as a job. Those feelings of guilt about the laundry list of items to do instead of indulging in this hobby were gone. Because it wasn’t a hobby anymore. It was on my google calendar, and you can’t ignore things when they are on your google calendar.
Megan didn’t just help me schedule writing time. She helped me organize and develop projects, and wanted to help me grow as a writer.
“I want to work on writing fiction,” I said. She asked if I had any ideas for fiction pieces, and I said, “no, because I’m not good at it—I don’t have a very big imagination.”
So each week, Megan sent me a prompt, and I gave myself 15 minutes to write a story. I had to write as quickly as I could and jump into whatever I thought of first without deleting anything. And just by doing it, I felt better and more confident.
Over six months, I published more blog posts for you beautiful people to read, and then also worked on submissions for online magazine writing contests.
Most of the submissions were flash fiction stories. I was excited to be working towards something again—working on projects with deadlines, but there was a serious downside. When I got my first “thank you but no thank you,” I realized I had put way too much hope into my submission, into all of them. For each story I wrote, I sent off the dream of becoming a writer with it. A real writer. A published writer. That is a lot of emotional stuff to put into a flash fiction submission sent to coolflashfictionmag.net. Once again, the disappointment from high expectations were going to be my downfall.
None of the flash fiction expectations came close to what I put into the one nonfiction piece I wrote for a press doing an anthology of essays about siblings. Megan and I spent a couple months working on it. So high were my expectations that I emailed my sisters and asked them to read it first before I sent it. I wanted their blessing if it was going to potentially published.
Today, that press thanks but no thanks’d me, very nicely tossing it back to me. And instead of wallowing and letting it just sit there, I’m going to do something else with it.
I’m just going publish it here. And then I’m going to publish all of them here.
I’m going to open a window.