Monday, July 30, 2012

Rejection by the Unknown Population

Rejection is funny. When I was first submitting stories some years ago, the fact that I had to wait for six months or longer to hear back from a magazine about my work seemed absurd and frustrating beyond any kind of acceptability. I still sort of think it is, but when I get a rejection like the one I got this morning, I start to wish that such magazines were just a little bit less efficient. I really thought the story was right for the market, and I also thought the story was nearly as good as it could be, and in less than a week, I was proved totally wrong.

I used to yearn for such quick response times, because then I could send the story out somewhere else and start the cycle of hope all over again. Now I wish my hope had hung out on the line for a few months, had been given the time to mellow and relax its grip on me. More time to discover other markets that might like the story, so I didn't hang it all on this one mag.

Perhaps this is crazy. Perhaps I'll feel differently the next time I spend 256 days waiting to hear the fate of a story. Perhaps I just want to complain no matter what editors do, unless it's an acceptance.

I wrote a couple thousand words the other day, and edited them last night. Not shabby.

I read Storm Front, the first Harry Dresden book, this weekend. Also not shabby. The thing I found most wonderful about it (aside from Butcher's subtlety in building backstory and world) was its emotional vulnerability. That's pretty damned rare for a male author, and it took my breath away at various points in the book. I wanted to clap Butcher on the back and say, thank you, this is what more men need to do in writing and in life. Way to forge a trail. Reading it did feel like watching Friends after watching Ingmar Bergman, though, since I started it only a day after finishing The Chronology of Water. Friends has its own merits, obviously, but after such Art it would seem farcical and made of tin and felt, like a puppet show.

Chronology is a book that has absolutely changed my life. In a week. I am waiting to write much about it until I read it again, which I hope to do next week. I want to read it every week. I want to write it on my skin, to chop it into dust and breathe it into my lungs. It feels like the only real book I've read since I was a little girl (aside from books that just broke my heart, like Feed); the word "book" seems inadequate to describe it.

The things that have moved and shaken due to this book are largely too personal for me to want to get into on this blog. My family has access to this blog. And I'm still processing. I just wrote about 600 words related to something that happened a couple of days ago, for instance, that was triggered by Chronology, and then deleted them. It seemed like too big a point to make in a blog post that opened up with me complaining about rejection, and liable to cause reader recoil.

At times like this I really miss my anonymous blog, where I allowed all things to flap out unfettered and waited for people to write in and say YES this is exactly what I always think about thank you or NO you are a crazy wrong person and no one likes you. Writing for an audience who knows me in real life, especially for an unknown population of acquaintances, is a heck of a lot harder. I keep unearthing more and more things I want to say here, but fail to say from fear of offense or dislike of IRL-me.

Sidebar: For what it's worth, I think this is a different if related issue to the anonymous-happy-face-blog problem that I read about a few months ago. Apparently a lot of writers don't give opinions or put a personal touch on their blogs, hoping to win the biggest possible audience by being friendly and generic. This is not how you capture readers, as Jenny Lawson will likely tell you. You be yourself and you draw people in who like the quirks of that self.

I am 90% sure that my actual parents don't read this blog, but I don't really know. And there are lots of other parentlike loving adults who are part of my audience. So I'm a bit reticent to give my opinion on things like S&M, which was tied up with the 600 words I deleted. Ha. Tied up. It's not that I think at a certain age you automatically become a parentbot with no other function and are unable to think and read about squicky issues without shutting down, but when you're on this side of it you wonder how squicky issues are taken by the parentbot, and whether the parentbot wishes you would please just be the PG and PC version of yourself for its own comfort. I wonder how people like Yuknavitch do this. I don't really care about opening up to the masses, what I think and what I feel and what I've experienced, but when I think about such exposure to people who know me mostly from family gatherings or from high school, I don't really know what to do. The brave thing is probably to open up and let chips fall, etc., but this is a blog with all of a dozen followers, not a professionally edited book published by a national press.

It's a tough spot. And thank you, dozen followers, I'm so glad you're here.

Yanno, I think I can actually tie this back up with where I started: rejection. That's a sort of kissing cousin to what I'm worried about. I know that people are less normal and more open-minded than you'd think, that the things they love are weirder and more unique than you'd think, and that actual rejection by loved ones is much harder to come by than I grew up thinking it was. But I'm always afraid that something's going to come out of my mouth that's going to make people think of me differently than they did, irrevocably, and that change is going to be bad.

I'm going to open this up to the floor. What do you think? If you keep a non-anonymous personal blog, do you worry about this? If you're lurking, come out, come out, and tell me what's on your mind.

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