I got a rejection this week, on a piece that I know is really good. Disappointed.
I’m really struggling to revise an essay based on some critical feedback from an editor.
Some days I have to wrestle my jealousy of other, more successful writers to the ground and stomp on it.
I haven’t worked on the book in two months.
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Yet I’ve recently had two editors of online journals randomly email me and ask to re-publish blog posts of mine.
I submitted an essay to a publication I’d never submitted to before, and they published it. The editor even said, “I’m feeling an abiding compassion in your work that I really love.” They want another essay.
I’ve received a few long emails lately from random people who stumbled across my blog and wanted to talk with someone who maybe understands their situations.
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My publications don’t make me a writer. My MFA degree doesn’t make me a writer.
This is what makes me a writer: I intimately know the struggle of writing.
I know that I have to balance confidence and humility. There are times that I have to be confident in my work, believing in it even when someone else rejects it. There are other times that I have to be humble and admit my work is total crap and sit down to do it again.
I know that for every page of beautiful writing, there were 20 pages of terrible writing.
I know that for every hour of productive writing, there were 10 hours of staring at a blank screen.
I know that jealousy is a cold killer, and it will choke you if you let it.
I know that the joy of one sentence of praise for your work can carry you for weeks.
I know that writing is a way to interact with people, which can be good and also scary.
I know that I have to show up to my writing desk and my writing time every day, even if I only write one sentence. And I know how very hard that is to do.
So I walk this path, with all its weeds and brambles. My legs are nicked up and my feet are tired. I see mirages all the time, I dream of greatness. I push those dream-branches away from my face and press through them into my reality. The path ahead of me is long and I still can’t see the end. But it is crowded with life, if I will take the time to see it. I walk underneath the canopy, listening for the caws and buzzes, noticing prints in the dirt, looking for an opening in the leaves for the sun to break through.