Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Season of Hope

This has nothing to do with the holiday.

I wrote this a few years ago, after my first full manuscript was requested and then, well, just read it.


“I’m sorry to have to tell you this over the phone...”
Those crushing words come from an editorial assistant in New York. I called to ask about the manuscript they have had for the past six months. It seems there was a paperwork mishap
somewhere along the line and I should have received a rejection letter earlier.
“That’s okay,” I say with more pep in my voice than I feel. I thank her for her time and hang up.
Rats. Damn!
I was looking forward to signing a big, fat, multi-book contract with one of the largest publishers in the business. Wallowing in delusions of grandeur, I had imagined whirlwind promotional tours, multi-city book signings, and the New York Times Best Sellers list.
Me, and about a zillion other writers.
I stare at the phone for a few moments, wondering what was wrong with my story. Hopefully they will send the delinquent rejection letter and it will be more specific than “Not what we’re looking for,” and more personal than “Dear Author”.
Hope. The fodder that keeps writers putting pen to paper. Or rather, in this Age of Technology, fingers to keyboard.
This is not my first rejection. It won’t be my last. But in this moment, it is my worst.
Life jars me out of contemplation. There are kids to care for, a house to clean, meals to prepare. After dinner I have a commiserating phone conversation with my best friend, a writer who has been on the receiving end of rejection and eventually got published. She tells me that my day will come. From her mouth to the publishers’ ears, I pray.
The kids are bathed and in bed. The house is quiet except for the low murmur of the television. Sometimes I write after the kids are asleep, but not tonight.
Tonight I feel like I made a grave error when I decided to try my hand at writing. I know I shouldn’t take the rejection personally, but how can I not? It’s like disrobing in front of someone for the first time and having them reach over to turn out the light, or snicker.
I need a drink. Not to drown my sorrows, just to numb them for a little while. We don’t keep anything stronger than wine in the house, unless you count cough medicine and vanilla extract.
I rummage around the bottom of my refrigerator and come up with a bottle of merlot. As I’m pouring, I spy the brownies my neighbor brought over the day before. Perfect.
I sit on the couch, watching television, sipping and nibbling. Wine and chocolate, a balm for most of life’s ills.
I would have preferred to be celebrating my first sale.
After my second glass, I go to bed. The next morning I feel marginally better, but I have a headache. I am such a wuss. An untalented lightweight.
Something gives me a mental kick in the butt.
Snap out of it! That was one person’s opinion. You got further than most writers do when they asked for the full manuscript. So quit being such a baby and get back to work!
The voice in my head sounds like my own, my mother’s and my best friend’s all rolled into one. Not a voice to ignore.
It takes me the rest of the morning to heed the directive. I sit at my computer, fingers hovering over the keyboard. I’m almost afraid to touch the plastic letters.
Don’t make me hurt you, the voice warns.
The pity party is over. Time to go, folks. Sweep up the crumbs, take out the trash, and get ready for the week ahead.
I shake trepidation out of my hands and click on the file of another project. My fingers fly over the keys as my imagination soars. I polish and refine, turning a phrase here and making a scene come to life there.
This is a good story. Maybe it will be this story that gets me THE CALL.
I’ll make sure there’s a bottle of celebratory wine in the house before I send it out. There’s always hope.



At 5:41 PM, Blogger Sharron said...

You are a wussy drinker. :-)

But you are a helluva writer, and I should know..I've read your work.

At 7:32 AM, Blogger Tracy Montoya said...

Rejections suck, but Sharron is right--your day will come. She says such great things about your writing, and we both know she wouldn't lie about it. So someone has to recognize your genius soon, I figure!

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

Thanks, ladies. And right back atcha about the fab writing ; )

At 9:16 AM, Blogger Meankitty Says... said...

I always hope you're going to get published, too :).

At 12:00 AM, Blogger LampLighter said...

Cathy - I stumbled upon your blog and was taken by your very honest description about recovering from a rejection. It takes about 3 days to feel better; 7 days out and creativity returns. You said it so very well.

And take heart, you are a good writer. You write simply but eloquently. Your time will come. Meantime, I've bookmarked your blog and I'll be back to read more because as a writer, I love reading others who are good at the craft.

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

Thanks for the lovely comments, Lamplighter. It's great to have you stumble here : )
I tried to find your blog but it wasn't coming up : (


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