I've never been so happy to receive a rejection. And I've received tons of them, trust me. When the thin envelope from the literary magazine arrived in the mail today, I was at first disheartened. I didn't have to even open it to know what it said. It would be a single page: a form rejection. Or so I thought.
But for the first time in my life, it was not. Sure, it was a rejection. But it was an encouraging rejection. The gist of it was that my Chapter One of RoboNomics 'has merit' but is 'not suitable' for that particular publication (which I read as my chapter is a little more sci fi, a little less literary). If that was all, it would have been little better than a form letter. But that wasn't it.
Also included were some of the comments that one of their reviewers had of the chapter. I won't quote it word for word here. But I will tell you that the reviewer liked it. Good set up, strong voice, compelling setting and characters. And to top it off, they would love to read more from me! SQUEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I might have actually made that noise when I read the letter. I took the thing, highlighted all the awesome comments quoted of my writing, and stuck it on my fridge.
Delusions of Grandeur
I think I've mentioned on this blog that in my early life, I didn't have any appropriate role models or mentors. Eventually, I took a couple poetry courses. During those times I had poetry instructors. But until this year, I didn't have an instructor, mentor or role model in the realm of fiction writing at all. Although I've been writing stories since I was nine years old, all I had was a beat up copy of "Emily of New Moon" and the feeling, deep down and unshakeable, that I have talent for my chosen vocation. That writing fiction is what I was made for, was my destiny, was (and is) the reason I am alive.
So it was and is, even now, still so easy for me to believe the doubters in my life. And it's not exactly easy to put my butt in the chair every day and do what I love with no external recognition or reward whatsoever. But I've come up with my own cure for the doubts or rather, my own elixir against self-doubt: delusion. I tell myself that I can do it. I tell myself that I have talent. I convince myself that I am a professional, published author already and that I am already in the midst of an established career. I listen to my motivational songs over and over again until I think that I am the most talented sci fi/fantasy writer the world has ever known. And it works. It's a strange little trick of the imagination but it gives me the strength to keep going without anyone having to tell me that what I am doing is worthwhile.
And so it's been a bit overwhelming for me over the past seven months or so. First, with the constant stream of comments from my writing instructor about how I have talent -- I'm not actually delusional about that -- and now this: the nicest, happiest, most encouraging rejection letter I've ever received. I knew I wasn't wrong, I knew I wasn't just some silly amateur who one day randomly turned her mind to writing a sci fi novel. I knew all along that this manuscript is something that people would actually want to read. It is a small thing. It is such a tiny, minuscule professional accomplishment. But to me, it feels giant. To come out of this lonesome state of being the only one who knows that I have talent for this into the company of a few others who agree with me. To know that I am not wrong about it all. :)