With the Super Bowl just hours away, most people’s most
pressing questions are “Who will win and with what spread?” or
“When can we break into the dips and beer?” But, let’s face it, I’m odd. Besides, I already know the answer to both those questions:
the Patriots by less than seven, and what the hell are you waiting for? It’s
my question at media day would have been directed to Tom baby (as he’s lovingly
referred to in my family). I have
a burning desire to ask him about his sleeping habits. No, I don’t want to make him an
indecent proposal. Well, I do, but
after his track record with knocking up other supermodels, I’d hate to tempt
him with my twenty-seven inch…inseam.
What I really want to ask him is if he’s slept better this week, with the
Super Bowl approaching with the speed and intensity of a Giant’s linebacker, or
at this time last year, knowing he’d be sitting out another bowl game after a
disappointing playoff loss? In
other words, I want to know if I’m the only freak out there who deals with
rejection and disappointment better than acceptance and success.
I first sent my work out into the world at seventeen, rejection hurt. But at that age, I knew it was to be
expected, and in addition to the encouragement of teachers and family, I even
received a few handwritten notes at the bottom of those form letters, telling
me to keep at it. Finally, my mom
found and shared with me a little story in Reader’s Digest about a writer whose
father, also a writer, told him he wouldn’t really be a writer until he reached
a thousand rejection letters. It
was a cutesy little piece about perseverance, but it made me feel better, and
it stuck with me. In the last two
years, as I once again sent my writing to agents and publishers, I used that
story to keep things in perspective.
And I got damn good at rejection.
I had a tool bag of coping mechanisms for dealing with the little
buggers that kept littering my mailbox and inbox. First I would scowl, attend the first available boxing
class, and then enjoy a large glass of vino. Later I would return to my drafts, queries, and suckopsises
and revise my little heart out. It
really worked. Last week I opened
my inbox and saw the too familiar
“Re: Query: Unforeseen/Grimley.” Ah, yes, the rejection letters from my latest batch of
submissions were beginning to trickle back in. I clicked on it, despite having a homeroom of twenty teens I
was supposed to be supervising.
After all, I was now a pro at handling these emails; where was the
risk? Wait, where was the
rejection? I scanned, read,
reread, practically memorized the lines in front of me. It wasn’t there. It was a letter of interest. Well, crap. How was I supposed to react to that?
was my first response. It was a
good thing I had a first period prep that day, or I wouldn’t have been at all
surprised to have been greeted the following morning with a “random”
drug test–because I was high on acceptance and terrible at hiding it. As soon as homeroom ended, I danced
down the halls stopping nearly everyone I knew to explain my stupid smile. I called my mom, of course. Emailed my best friends. Posted on Facebook. And then finally, I breathed.
oxygen flowing to my brain again, it began working on overdrive. The first thing I knew was that I knew
nothing. Perhaps it was
pessimistic, though at the time I passed it off as realistic, but in all the
research I did about writing and getting published, I skipped the chapters
about actually getting an offer. I
had researched queries, formatting, building a platform, and revising those
opening pages. I had spent hours
online scouring agents’ and publishers’ websites, looking for matches, watching
for complaints. I had every step
up to and through rejection down pat.
This next phase was uncharted territory. I like to save my creativity for my writing and my
spontaneity for trying new types of sushi. When it comes to more major life decisions, I like clear
directions, concrete examples, and knowledge, lots of knowledge.
I did what every person born after 1975 would do, I turned to Google. Bad idea. There are as many sites with horror stories about the
publishing world as there are sites able to diagnose your sore arm as a sign of
a deadly incurable disease. I
carefully backed away from the computer and turned instead to a reference book
my folks had gotten me for Christmas two years ago, the one whose chapters on
publishing I had skipped. Old
school, I know, but it was certainly more helpful than anything online. I still don’t know exactly what’s next,
but I at least have an idea of what questions to ask, what precautions to take,
and what resources are available.
one small publisher like my work may not be equivalent to the Super Bowl of
writing, but it’s a win. And
despite all the uncertainty and all the possibility for things to go wrong
along the way, I need to remember what coaches and politicians everywhere will
tell you: A win’s a win. At least
until the recount says it’s not.
In the meantime, I’m going to try to enjoy the ride, and hopefully, this
week, get some sleep! And Tommy
boy, if you want to answer my question in person, I’ve got an extra pillow.