I opened a book I got for Christmas; I was bound and determined to break out of the habit I’ve gotten myself into where I only read to learn things and can’t seem to read for fun or enjoyment. I remember those days. I remember reading the Hobbit in the bathtub when I was a kid. I loved that book and it has a water-swelled look that proves it.
I swear I’ve lost the patience to read for no “productive reason”. I read two damn pages of my new book and had to set it aside. School broke me I think. Either that or I really don’t like what I was reading. What I need to do is figure out how to switch off the “learning” brain and just read something fun and adventurous or suspenseful. Perhaps a YA dystopian novel?
Maybe deep down I really don’t like poetry. How cray would that be? A poet confessing that the only poetry she really loves is her own. I love all my babies. I think all my little darlings are precious gems and deserve good homes. Maybe the best home there is, is one I build myself? After a parade of rejections lately I’m starting to think more about that.
What can I do to unhinge my learning brain so I can just enjoy reading again? This diatribe about reading is a smoke-screen for what’s really bothering me.
Hinge and unhinge are buzz words. And the moon is still the biggest cliche that’s OK but not Ok.
Or I maybe I don’t care it’s Cliche. If the moon wants an appearance in my poem, who am I to refuse?
After all, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.
Yeah, it’s part of who I am. And my poetry is an extension of who I am.
I will keep working to make my writing better but won’t sacrifice my voice or preferred topics because who I am is not “marketable” or the “right fit.” (Nobody said I’m not marketable, but I’m not an idiot, the market has trends of interest).
I’m Smaug from the Hobbit, with all my gems and well armored against most assailants. Most. But last night felt stings from a well placed/well timed arrow. Right in a tender spot exposed in a weak moment.
There have been a number of rejections this week. I’m close to getting my period and that’s when I’m more emotional, more vulnerable and subject to injury. So far I’ve been pretty immune to the language of the thoughtless rejection form letter. The letter that’s says, out of the box, “thanks but no thanks.” What’s worse, when they send something like “not a good fit.” What’s a good fit is what I want to know.
What’s worse is when I can tell they really just leave the Submittable default decline letter be their rejection message. Being on the publishing side, I know what that is. And also that it takes just a few minutes to craft something more personal. We did that for the GLR and I revisit this sometimes. It’s an important part of our Public facing reputation. Each human interaction, even rejection (maybe especially rejection), is important.
Sometimes I feel like everyone else is doing all the work on the lit mag, and my contribution isn’t important, but thinking about it now.. the fact that I care so much about being kind and treating people with respect and being sympathetic to their situation does have an impact because I want every interaction to be a positive one. I know there are improvements I can make and those changes will make a difference.
I think being on the receiving end of messages from potential publishers has made me better suited for the work I’m doing.
With each new rejection my confidence wanes. I was sitting in my bed and updating the spreadsheet I use to keep track of my submissions and there’s so much orange sherbet I feel a sting. I selected a pleasant shade of orange to indicate rejection instead of red because red is so harsh. The color of blood or stop or don’t isn’t conducive to keep trying again.
Still, after a while, even the light orange is bothersome. At the same time I’m reviewing the status in submittable I’m texting with my friend T and we’re conversing about rejection and self publishing and the lit mag. We both agreed the wonderfully written rejection was something to treasure.
I’m down about the numbers but not sure what to do about it. I recognize it is mostly out of my control. If my writing is not a good fit, there’s nothing I can do. Find a place it is a good fit I suppose. But I was too tired last night. Too tired to read, to write, to research, and decided to call it quits for the day.
It was supposed to be a good day, a “me” day but my mood was rotten all day and I just couldn’t feel accomplished or productive no matter what I tried.
Then.. just as I was closing my laptop, I checked my email one last time. A new message in my inbox was a lovely email from a former mentor of mine from the MFA program. It was so generously encouraging I just cried. How did he know that was exactly what I needed? That’s some serious intuition.
He said I was “a real deal poet” and to keep working. After I read that I closed my laptop and set it aside. I slid down under my covers, and grabbed a tissue to wipe my eyes. How did he know?
I have more thoughts about that, but have gone on too long already about rejection and about typically being immune to the sting of it, and also about how there’s a weak spot in my “armor”.
I’m not Smaug. I may be wounded but I’m not gonna die from those poorly crafted steel arrows. I will survive to live another day, do good work, and make my own mark on this life.
With my mentors kind words I was able to fall asleep with those thoughts instead of the others. And I woke up this morning ready to take on the day.
What did I find in my email inbox?.. Another poem has been accepted for publication. Well played Universe!!
Cheers to being Smaug but not really being Smaug, 😉