Any writer serious about the craft has a love-hate relationship with the mailbox. We know well that all too often, between the bills and junk mail, lurk those pesky rejection letters. After we’ve been at it a while, though, we begin to take it all in stride. We realize that each rejection is a success, because it means we’re working, we’re trying to get it right, and we’re getting closer. We’re not just talking about writing and talking about “someday.” We’re actually doing the legwork in an effort to try to get our work out there. And we’ll always remember in crisp detail what it was like that fine day we reached into the mailbox and pulled out our first acceptance letter. On that day, the birds began to sing, the sun suddenly emerged from behind clouds and we didn’t care that the neighbors were looking at us, scratching their heads while we hugged the mailbox.
Nevertheless, those days of celebration don’t happen every day in the life of a writer. They come, but more often, they go. Usually a trip to the mailbox is just that — a dreary walk to the curb with low expectations of what might be discovered.
That definitely was my attitude a few weeks back when I grabbed the mail on the way out to run some errands. Sure enough, it seemed at first glance, junk mail had taken over once again. I almost missed the envelope engulfed in all the pizza fliers. What’s this? My name written in pen (not typed) on the outside. My eyes quickly shifted to the top left. Aha, the publisher I’d approached only a few weeks prior with a query. Talk about a quick rejection! With that little twinge of disappoinment that accompanies rejection letters flaring, I began to open to the letter, wondering whether it would be a form rejection, or one with a small hand-written note. Ho-hum…
It definitely wasn’t a form rejection. Nor was it a typed rejection with handwritten notes. The words, Thanks for sending and interested and intrigued popped out instead, and the stale air around me shifted.
The letter I received, while not a rejection, wasn’t an acceptance, either, but it was a request for revision and to see more in the near future. It is a mere step forward, and nothing more at this point.in other words, I won’t be sending out invitations to the party just yet. But, it’s a start nonetheless.
I dropped the junk mail into the recycling bin and tucked the letter into my purse, then pointed my van toward the grocery store. If anyone passing had looked closely enough to see the expression on my face, they might have guessed I’d just won the lottery, my grin was that big. I lilted into the grocery store to go about my mission, thinking that the oranges had never looked so orange, hoping I could stay on the ground long enough to make it back home to tell my family. Hope that follows hard work is something worth celebrating, after all.
Later that evening, it was back to work, but this time, with a renewed sense of purpose. I will carry this renewed energy into my residency at St. Ben’s in a few weeks. It’s all good, indeed!
I’d love to hear from writers out there. What did your first acceptance letter feel like? If it hasn’t happened yet, what are you doing to reach your goals? Share any writing successes you’d like. Spread the hope!