Thursday, December 11, 2008
I'm not what they call an early adopter. I still don't have a cell phone or a wireless connection. I have no idea how to Twitter, and honestly, it wasn't until this year that I started thinking online publishing was worth a damn. So this blog thing ... well, here's the deal: I'm a full-time freelance writer and editor. I work from a desk in my bedroom. My commute to work is literally less than three feet. On bad days, I might still be in my boxers at 6 p.m., unshowered, unshaved. And I tell you, it can be powerfully isolating.
But I'm not starting this blog today to talk about my fungal work habits. Instead, I'm beginning where pretty much everybody begins in this business ... rejection.
You see that lady up there? When I started out, I was pretty sure someone like her worked at every publishing company in the world. She was called the Rejector, and her job was to reject me. Over and over. Again and again. I used to keep a box of her rejections under my bed. I saved every single one. I figured it was for record-keeping or some such nonsense.
One day, I realized these hundreds of rejections had achieved a kind of negative critical mass. They had a dangerous, metastasizing energy of their own. So I dragged the box out and I burned them all.
Now, years later, I don't keep rejections. Shoot, I barely keep records at all. I just keep sending it out there, idea after idea, hope upon hope. I toss the rejections with barely a glance. I write the successes. I think this is the way it has to be to survive as a writer -- and maybe to survive at all.
Later, I would become the Rejector myself, leafing through thousands of resumes and writing samples, rapidly dashing hopes, casually filling up boxes under other peoples' beds. I wish I could say I always kept compassion at hand, that I always remembered how hard it is to break into this business. But that wouldn't be true. Most of the time, I was rushed, behind deadline and desperately hoping to find that spark of talent, that bit of expertise that could bail me out.
This, too, helped me understand the process. It's almost never about what you are -- it's what you aren't that matters. And this can be changed ...