A couple of days ago, I got another rejection letter from an agent who requested my full manuscript back in May 2015. Since then, I’ve been in the mental fog that for me accompanies rejection, my mind a swirling mess of hurt, determination, envy, self-doubt, resolution, and a thousand other mixed-up feelings. Oh, the feelings.
I’ve been mulling over how to how to articulate this. Actually, “mulling” sounds kind of spicy and pleasantly warming. What I’ve been doing is more accurately described as “obsessing.” How do I communicate all these thoughts without being a Whiny McGripeypants? (Clearly I am running out of words. Send help. Ideally in the form of a thesaurus and vast quantities of ice cream that is 50% cookies, 50% candy, and 50% ice cream. Yeah, I can’t do math either.)
This morning I took the dogs for a walk, hoping to shake things loose. Walking always works. For most of the half-hour, I rehashed my laundry list of woes and stewed in my own dissatisfaction. I want to lash out, to complain, to moan about how hard it all is and how grouchy it makes me and how subjective publishing is and blah, blah, blah, but at the end of the day, all I get to choose is my reaction. I choose kindness.
So this one’s for the writer-mamas.
For the ones sobbing to their partners their fears that they’ll never “make it” and that they’re being bad mamas by trying.
For the ones who don’t dare sob to their partners because at best, their partners don’t understand how much it means to them, and at worst, their partners tell them they’re wasting their time and why isn’t the house clean and dinner on the table?
For the ones who have to lock themselves in the bathroom to sob because they’re parenting alone.
This one’s for the ones racking up the rejection letters.
For the ones struggling to write the query letter.
For the ones struggling to write the first draft.
For the ones struggling to write the grocery list.
For the ones who dream of writing and stand at the foot of the mountain staring up in abject terror.
This one’s for the ones dragging their exhausted bodies through pregnancy, wondering if they will ever have the energy to write again, and if it is possible to re-grow brain cells.
For the ones rocking the babies who scream unless held, the ones wondering why no one told them it would be this hard.
For the ones who can’t “sleep while the baby is sleeping” because the baby never freaking SLEEPS.
For the ones who thought there’d be time to write in a year or so, only to realize that the only thing more demanding and unreasonable than an infant is a
For the ones whose writing now consists primarily of filling out reading logs, field trip permission slips, and school health forms.
For the ones trying to finish the blog post while sitting up late worrying and waiting for the teen who’s broken curfew again.
For the ones who drop the kids off at college, drive home to the long-anticipated silence, and sit down to try to write through the ache of empty arms.
For the ones who watch the grandbabies whose underpaid parents work full-time.
For the ones who’ve become caregivers to their own parents, dashing off fragmented sentences on n0tepads and iPads while perched on the ends of hospital beds.
For the ones who save up for the retreat and kiss their families goodbye with a mixture of anticipation and anxiety.
For the ones who save every last penny for the conference and then have to spend the money on the latest family emergency.
For the ones who barely have enough money this month for groceries.
For the ones who would have been the next Dickinson, Atwood, Austen, Woolf, Dillard, LeGuin if they had not been born or dropped into crushing poverty (h0w many voices were silenced before they ever spoke?)
For the ones who struggle with their own privilege, knowing they should be grateful but longing for something more–a calling, a voice.
For the ones who had the deck stacked against them from the start in a world that privileges some races, identities, ages, bodies over others.
For the ones battling the dragons of envy as they wonder why everyone else seems more capable, more successful.
For the ones grappling with the dragons of insecurity, the ones for whom showing up to the page is a mighty act of courage because someone along the way convinced them they’d never be “good enough.”
For the ones warring against the dragons of self-doubt as they persevere in silence, in the unique beautiful terrible isolation of writers who pour their souls into their words without any assurance that those words will ever be read.
For the ones fighting the dragons of chronic illness, for whom showing up to the page is a Herculean feat of mind over aching, rebellious matter.
For the teenage writer-mamas who didn’t plan on this.
For the twenty-somethings who thought they had it all planned out.
For the thirty-somethings who wonder what on earth they were thinking.
For the forty-somethings who have learned the hard way that you can’t really plan any of it at all.
For the fifty-somethings who think they may be beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
For the sixty-somethings who just realized that light is a train.
For the seventy-somethings who are told every day by our culture that they are “too old” for this.
For the eighty-and-beyond-somethings–the rest of us need to shut up and listen to you.
For all the writer-mamas everywhere–
What do you need?
How can I help you on your journey?
Please tell me in the comments.
I really want to know.
Let’s pull each other up. Let’s rise like a tide, inexorable and fierce.