“Dear to us are those who love us… but dearer are those who reject us as unworthy, for they add another life; they build a heaven before us whereof we had not dreamed, and thereby supply to us new powers out of the recesses of the spirit, and urge us to new and unattempted performances.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Writing, especially in the literary world, is its own paradox of torture and reward. Some people who live in places where it rains, collect rain drops in buckets (or so I am told). I collect rejections in my inbox. There are dry months when nothing comes in, the bucket empty and forgotten. Then suddenly there will be a deluge. I read them in all their form-glory, and empty the bucket, making notes in my spreadsheet as notes are warranted (“want to see more,” “want to see more if I can take more risks”). Mostly, I enter a polite, “decline,” a word that makes me feel less rejected and more, “So and So Press is unable to attend your literary party.” Manners are key (for more on this, read this fantastic post by The Portland Review).
Every once and awhile, however, lightning strikes in the middle of the rain. About a week and a half ago, I received the next to last rejection for a round of simultaneous submissions on a short story. Feeling a little downtrodden, as one does, I thought of pulling the piece from submission rotation. About an hour later, after digesting some Oedipus essays from my Comp II class, I returned to my private email to find a lightening bolt awaiting. It was not an acceptance for the piece; it was an invitation for something different and challenging.
On a whim a six weeks ago, I sent in a proposal to be a regular blogger for Ploughshares Literary Magazine. My writing samples were taken from this blog, The Baraza, and Toasted Cheese Literary Journal. Pitch wise, I selected ideas I would be interested in as a reader, not just a writer. It was a chance in hell shot, but I’ve decided most things are, and, to quote the great Stephen Sondheim, “The harder to get the better to have.”
The email I received congratulated me, inviting me to join the Ploughshares blog for 16 posts in 2013. I was dumbstruck (and still am a bit). Outlines, deadlines, contracts, marketing–it’s overwhelming and fabulous and just a touch scary. It has also given me a fire, not just for doing a stellar job in the coming year, but for turning up the volume on my own writing. After some revisions, that rejected piece went back into circulation today.
Happy Holidays, dear readers. May your writing days be merry and bright.