Friday, June 23, 2017

Just Keep Writing

The best thing about submitting your work to a publication is that queasy feeling of sharing something important with strangers. 

The worst thing is a rejection email.

On the list for the 41st year is 40 submissions to literary magazines, agents, and small press publications. That means putting myself out there 40 times (at least) and the inevitable rejection that comes therewith.

Yesterday “Off the Shelf” got rejected. Again.

I can’t help but think those people who reject this story don’t have an Elf on the Shelf that fucks with their Christmas.

The story is from the elf’s point of view. Patrick Henry hates his job and is trying like hell to get the kid he’s supposed to scout to touch him so he can be ruined, shamed, and released from servitude. This story is my first Joss Whedon-hates-The Incredibles story: It’s me looking at something other people take a certain way and taking it a totally different way.

I love this story.

I love the urgency Patrick Henry has and the drama of trying to escape. I love the exposition of the list elves who act like the DMV and the way Patrick Henry sees Santa as a slave owner.

Alas, the story has been consistently rebuffed.

When I drag Hollie to swim practice every day, I tell her she’s learning things through swim team that I can’t teach her. The 41st Year list is teaching me, too. Submissions mean rejection and rejection teaches me to persevere, to revise and edit, and to keep writing.

Just keep writing.

The only way to produce good work that people read and love is to PRODUCE. I wake up in the morning and I race down stairs to write. I spend most of the day with my head in earphones and my fingers on the key board.

While I am in-between major work, I am writing my way out. Out of rejection, despair, and self-doubt, out of financial insecurity and uncertainty and failure. I am writing my way out.

ROAR!!! Then wait. Repeat as necessary.

I’ve always loved March’s “in like a lion, out like a lamb” dichotomy. On the one side, there’s a fierce restlessness an...