I spent last week hiding out, filled with self doubt and fear. I tried and tried to sit down at the keyboard and make some sense, but instead I took pencil to paper and still wasn't satisfied. Two weeks ago, I went out on a limb and prepared two pieces of work for submission. One, for a giveaway contest to go to a very expensive, but very meaningful writers retreat, the second, for a feature on a popular mom blog. The details aren't important. What is important is that I let two rejection letters get the best of me. I let all those voices in my head talk me out of writing anything for an entire week. I doodled and wrote lists and made plans, but a story never took shape. It was just a bunch of words strung together to convey my emotions. I was kind of a hot mess internally.
Normally, self inflicted writers block wouldn't have been much of an issue. This happens to me from time to time. Sometimes I read a blog post and think, "Why didn't I write that", or I read a really good book and think, "I'll never write that well". Most times if I self inflict this injury on myself it takes just a few days to shake it off, but for some reason this rejection and period of self doubt was hard to shake. It's been close to five years since I started this blog, and for all the reasons I feel braver, there are a thousand more that I'm trapped by self doubt. Over the years my voice has become stronger, but the time has made me more doubtful that I will ever fulfil my ultimate dream of writing a book. Am I impatient? Yes to a fault. Do I doubt myself and reign as my harshest critic? Absolutely. Somehow, someway I finally talk myself out of the doubt and return to the keyboard to hammer it out. That's what I'm aiming for today.
Last week, I was trying really hard to finish a submission for Real Simple Magazine. There is always a theme or a prompt, and every year I find it hard for me to fit into that prompt. This year the editors of the magazine wanted to know of a time that you did something that changed your life. Did you quit a job? Did you stay late at a party and meet your partner? How did one decision change your life so drastically? For the first time I felt like I had an actual story to tell. Four months ago I quit my job, my really good, bringing home the bacon job, for a small business opportunity. That one action seriously changed everything, considering I no longer work there. That's right, I don't work at the bridal shop anymore and I'm back at my old job Pier 1. In just four months everything has changed, and I felt my story would be great to send off to Real Simple. With one month left until the submissions were due, I started working on my story. I just wrote, without editing, thinking that it would all come together in the end.
All work on my "Real Simple" story halted with the two rejections I received. Why even try, I asked myself. Was it even worth putting all my blood and sweat into another piece that would just be put into the "loser" pile. I'm pretty sure they don't call it the "loser" pile, but in my mind that is exactly what it's called.
I spent the last week before the due date, paralyzed. Hiding from the fact that I can, and sometimes do, write a great story. Hiding and making excuses on why I couldn't finish it, until I finally forced myself to read what I already had. It wasn't bad. It was actually shaping up to be the kind of thing I publish in this space. The only problem was that I had to tell the story in 1500 words or less. After reading and rereading, I realized that condensing that story in any way was never going to happen. So I trashed it (in mind only) and started to write another "changed my life story" only to find that my heart wasn't really in it. Why was I limiting myself to a prompt? Why was I putting me and my writing in a box? I've never been the kind of gal who boxes herself in. Why would I start now?
Friday, after trying to write and rewrite something that would stick, I decided to scrap it all. I knew I wasn't going to condense the story. I knew I wasn't going to start over from scratch. What I did know was that it was going to make a great story to tell here. It was too long for a single post, and now I realize that is the beauty of "How I lived a cliche this summer" (working title). It's not something to submit. It's not a story that can be told in 1500 words. This is a story that took time to live and is going to take time to tell. Even if it bores you to tears, it's a story that has to get out so I can move on.
I'm still stinging from the rejection letters. I still feel like I'm fighting the battle to get published, the battle to be noticed. It's a funny thing, "fame". Even just blog famous. So many of us want it, and for what? To say that you were featured "here"? I want it, because I'm still in this place where I need to know that my writing is good enough for publication. That all these keystrokes have been for something in the years I've been blogging. Self doubt is still my biggest opponent. Maybe she always will be.
Yesterday I read this on Instagram,
I also learned that there is a difference between being known and being accepted.
My blog friend Julie posted it after her trip to the Influence Conference. It spoke to me in a big way, and made me feel better about not meeting my submission deadline. It reminded me of why I blog, to have a voice, to surround myself with the community my voice attracts. For now, being known shouldn't be my end all be all. Being accepted should. I'm accepted here. I have created this space so I can accept me. So I can accept my voice. This space allows me to accept all the things I hate and love about myself. I've created this space for me.
I'm working on typing out my Summer Cliche story so I can publish it here. It's going to take some editing, but I'm ready. I've sent self doubt and fear away for awhile, telling them to take a nice long vacation. In the end I know that, rejection will always sting, someone may say it better, and sometimes 1500 words just won't cut it. Knowing this, I can move forward and start writing again. Even if the only thing I do is rework a piece that I've already written.
Now comes the best part. I'm going to hit publish, and no rejection letter can stop me from hitting that button.