On Rejection

So far in 2018, my work has been rejected more than 30 times. More than 20 by literary or other magazines, 6 by literary agents, 1 by a graduate program.

When I got the rejection from the graduate program, I felt disappointed, confused, at peace, then markedly more confused, followed by a chaser of confusion and peace. And then I felt relief and I still feel relief coupled with a little bit of confusion. I think that's about the truest feeling I can describe upon being rejected. It's so rarely just one singular feeling that wraps around one's tender ego and that plugs up the heart from leaking out rejection tears. It's a little bit of this and a little bit of that unexpected other thing that mingle together in the rejection cocktail. Even when relationships didn't work out, this was my experience. A lot bit sad, a little bit relieved. A strong portion of UMMM WUT? and a slice of the OH GOOD, one fewer people to revolve my life around, hey? 

Rejection always stings not because it's a denial of one's work or one's companionship. It's a rejection of something one has chosen with which to be vulnerable. This is why self-preservation is such a powerful reflex for some of us. If we don't make ourselves vulnerable, we won't deal with rejection. Nor will we ever see our work published or experience deep love or anything that places our vulnerability at risk?

I decided that 2018 was going to be my year to aim for at least 104 rejections (2 for each week of the year). It's not enough to say I want to be published because publication is a moving target on quaaludes. If I play the rejection numbers game, it's like that old corndog adage about aiming for the moon but landing among the stars.

And my work has found a soft place to land in a couple of publications, and that has felt even better. Better than the sting of rejection is the feeling of acceptance. What they don't tell you about acceptance as a writer, though, is that it begins from within and it has to be a continuous renewal process. It's very difficult if not impossible to receive the acceptance of a publication and to really appreciate what it represents if you haven't accepted your own strengths and limitations as a writer, as an artist. I'm not so self-actualized that I can read things I wrote, like things I wrote two sentences ago, and don't want to find a nice cement mixer and fling myself underneath its direct pour. Fortunately, that feeling becomes more fleeting, though, the more vulnerable we make ourselves, the more practiced we become at receiving rejection and putting it in its place.

That's why I'm aiming for a year of rejections, because aiming for the moon still nets me some stars, and seeing the moon up close must be pretty cool, too. 

My Podcast Debut

Well, fan club, you best get my autograph now because my fame is about to BLOW. UP. That chemical engineer multi-lingual brilliant lady friend of mine Josephine Elia interviewed me for her Reading Interview Series. BALLER! Color me tickled to have been asked about my favorite books. If you give it a listen, you should probably put it on 2x as fast because I'm just blathering away most of the time. And laughing at my own jokes. And diverting from the main point like every forty seconds. But what did you expect?

Hope you enjoy! And thank you SO MUCH, Josephine Pippin!!

LinkedIn makes me itch, 2018 has that new car smell, and other thoughts

LinkedIn is still a boxy place full of bosses, former ones and prospective bosses, small boxes to check and boxes into which we must shoehorn our skillset and lop off the quirks that may make us incredibly valuable but may not necessarily be valued. I click and scroll and read and my shoulders feel freighted by the imaginary shoulder pads I should be wearing in my little box of a profile picture. I can never look proffy enough for LinkedIn. [Woman working, Adressograph Corporation]

Random gents from Nigeria attempt to add me to their LinkedIn networks. I receive invites at least daily from complete strangers from Lagos, people whose titles sound like they ripped them from the Lives of the Saints: God's Hands and Feet, Director. Do I want to add this person to my LinkedIn network? Is it my own hubris that I don't want to add someone with the hubris to place the hands and feet of the Almighty as his professional title?

I click on "ignore request" because it all makes me feel a bit icky. Then I am smacked by my own privilege. What licenses me to ignore? Where do I hop on my First World high horse, so jaunty as I wave away these requests for connection. Because I was born under a certain star? Because I stand on the shoulders of giants? Because I would struggle mightily to imagine what it's like to have queued up a website on an unstable internet connection in a place so desolate of opportunity that the only hope one holds is to make a connection, no matter how superficial, because that feels like progress? What is it like to log on to LinkedIn and not feel bewildered by the boxy bossiness, but rather to find endless sea at nighttime, small boats and buoys bobbing with their sails up, tomorrow replete with possibility albeit unknown?

Whereas I can log off and hope for something to work out.

The very fact that I can write this true sentence about my life is some privilege worth confronting: I took the fall off to help the kids transition. Meaning, I chose not to work for someone else but rather worked for myself. In the pajama pants of work-from-home mythology.I booked hair appointments in the middle of the day like a proper Betty Draper. I went to yoga when I wanted, ate snacks at my desk, picked my kids up from school every blessed day. I've enjoyed the leisure of negotiable deadlines and the thrill of hard deadlines and I've even prettied up my professional website so that if the freelance hustle wants to pick itself up? It can.

It is now time to reemerge and inhale that new car smell of 2018. Ironically it smells like a gritty public bus ride to somewhere, somewhere that I'll have the privilege to serve.