For someone inching their way towards their late twenties, I cry an awful lot. At films, at songs, at books, and, more embarrassingly, at all kinds of things that happen to me personally – from relationships to lost belongings. Luckily for me, I’m quite a discreet crier and awkward situations have been minimal.
Over the years I’ve had plenty of tricky relationships; lovers I didn’t love or who didn’t love me. I cried every remnant of them out of my system. And that’s generally considered a healthy thing.
But I can’t stop myself from sometimes also welling up when a get a writing-rejection – the short stories I send out are captured and calcified parts of myself after all. I also occasionally find myself crying over a manuscript I can’t manhandle correctly. That’s on the days when the idea of not being able to reproduce that particular moment on paper is a terrible one.
So I’m looking at my life and my collection of tissues and I’m thinking: what’s provoked the greatest flood, the men or the manuscripts?
I’d slip into my finest mad-scientist-lady outfit if I thought I could juggle the test tubes to weigh up the tears, but I can’t help wondering if I’d really want to know the answer. I’m not sure what kind of person it would reveal me to be.
Ink and I are both in the grips of ‘rejection anticipation anxiety’ and while it’s a tricky time, I’m quite liking the way we’re in it together – albeit over separate projects. The best thing is that we both understand they way it feels to wait and wait and hope someone is even looking at your stuff let alone liking it and we both know how shit it feels when you get the note letting you they looked and they didn’t want it.
I’m only waiting in a very general way at the moment because all I have out are short stories – rejections for any one of them will hurt, but not knock me off track for long. Ink, on the other hand, has some larger projects on the go and I have all my fingers crossed that his plans play out the way he wants them too – even though I’ll probably have to bite down hard on some jealousy bugs if I’m languishing behind!
Having a partner in sublime submissions and rejections isn’t anything I’ve ever experienced before (not when I was completely 100 per cent routing for them like this anyway) but I think it helps. Is that normal? Do other people find it makes the waiting game worse?
So I had another rejection letter this weekend and the best and worst thing about it was the obvious thought that the magazine editor had put into it. Instead of the standard slip of fail, I had a letter with the first two paragraphs saying quite nice things but also helpfully pointing out exactly what it was about the short story that didn’t work for her. There was even a brief handwritten PS with a further suggestion.
This took the sting out of the general disappointment and, even though there was that little voice inside of me churlishly say ‘but you just don’t get it’, made me want to redraft it and see how the story looked her way.
Being told you just don’t cut it it never going to be awesome, but if all editors had the time and patience and general good will as well as obvious dedication to the written word as this one seems to I probably wouldn’t mind being told it quite so much.