Rejection + the Writer. It Feels Like This:

This time last week I was nervous. I'd applied for a grant and the announcement would be made soon. The waiting part is the worst. Waiting for the letter in the mail. Waiting for a phone call. Waiting for an email. Looking for signs, big or small. I ate a fortune cookie that delivered this cruel joke: What you desire is about to come true.

And then the announcement time arrived. I woke from sleep to check the website. There was a winner. Nope, that wasn't me. I read the winner's bio and then went back to sleep relieved that the waiting was over.

The next day I felt pretty low. I'd wanted this grant to finish my novel. I'd told myself I couldn't finish it without it. I'd told myself I wouldn't write again.

There was more bad news at work, layoffs related to the recession, which made me even sadder. I floated through the day. Then I got an email from an editor about a short story I'd submitted. He loved it and would pass it on to the next round. Good news! I marched on.

The next day I was angry which felt empowering. At least when you're angry you can kick and lash. I'd spent several months on that grant! Although I wanted to remain in that anger, my mind wouldn't let me. It started being rational. It said that I needed to apply for more grants, contests, awards and get into the swing of this whole process. I was whining about one rejection. This writing thing is a hustle, my mind said.

I tried watching television or shopping to forget about the rejection, but those activities didn't work. The best distraction for me is writing. I realized I wanted to work more on a specific story set in Detroit, so I did. Writing was the only thing that made me feel better.

I guess it's a good thing that writing is this compulsion that I have. I will do it regardless. I just read that Toni Morrison had many rejections with The Bluest Eye and that she thought she'd be published posthumously. I'll take posthumous publication. There will be this stack of manuscripts in my house anyway.

This just in: the editor who loved my story sent a second email. He fought tooth and nail for the story so that everyone could see its brilliance, he wrote. He loved my mix of African-American popisms and magical realism. But alas, he lost the battle. It's not the right fit for their publication.....


  1. This is pretty amazing to me. I just went through a rejection today. The first thing people say is "Just don't give up!"...and my mental response is: What gave you the impression that was an option? I took a nap, I'll admit. I woke up and got back to what makes me happy. My work. :D *mental fistbump*

  2. I know the feeling. I worked for months on my Guggenheim application -- but alas, was not chosen. I also thought that I would be published posthumously - but the universe knew differently. Hang in there girl.