Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wake Up Call: First Rejection Letter for Coach K Arrives

I've been waiting to hear back from the five literary journals to which I sent my personal essay/memoir piece "Coach K" almost a month ago. I received an email from Creative Nonfiction inviting me to view their website and receive a discount on a subscription. Although it was obviously a form email, it included my name and the title of my piece, which gave me hope. It said they take up to six months to respond, though, so I went back to waiting.

Every day I check the mail to no avail. Except last night, after getting home from a bar with my fiance and one of our friends, my fiance checked the mail for me and there was an envelope from Alaska Quarterly Review. Sure enough, it was a rejection letter. :( A standard form one stating that my work does not meet their needs at this time. Someone did write "Re: Coach K" and "With Thanks" on it, which was a nice little gesture, but I didn't even notice that until this morning I was so bummed, which the alcohol didn't help, so I just tossed the letter to the side and pouted. I just wanted to go lay in bed and cry. I had to smile, try to ignore it (I did whisper to my fiance that I got a rejection letter -- he looked genuinely surprised and crestfallen, which was sweet, and then he said something funny like "Those fools are stupid for not recognizing your talent!") and play Beatles Rock Band.

Lately I'd been thinking more and more about whether I could ever leave the law to be a writer, and if so, when. I had been joking wih my sister while I was in PA over the weekend that if I were hit by a car and bleeding to death on the side of the road, I wouldn't think about my legal career, accomplishments, downfalls, etc. at all. I'd think of my family and friends and then I'd think, "I never got to publish a book! I didn't spend enough time writing!" We were laughing and she was going, "Help me officer, I'm bleeeeeeeeding and I just want to publish a book!" But then on Wednesday after I returned home I was actually involved in a scary car accident in which my tire blew out on the highway on the way from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. I thought I was going to die but I walked away completely fine. I called my sister and told her we shouldn't joke about me being in a car wreck! But since then I've had this eery feeling, like life is trying to tell me something.

Of course, last night, when I received the rejection letter, my first thought was, "Good thing I have a good day job!" It would be really hard, if not downright impossible, to rely on writing to pay the bills. And I do enjoy my job and the law. So maybe life is trying to tell me to continue to write and pursue publication as much as I can in my spare time (which is very limited) while being grateful for my legal career during most of my waking hours. ????

On the other hand, I know that rejection is just a part of the writer's life. Did I really think that the first literary journal that I sent my piece to was going to say, "wow, what a literary genius, we must publish her immediately!" I guess I kind of did. ;) But that obviously isn't very realistic.

For laughs, I enjoyed this cartoon on the stage of rejection that writers go through: From Writer, Rejected

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