Many of my brain cells have been occupied these past few days with a writer friend who just went through a particularly hard rejection. It has taken most of the wind out of his sails. "Gutted" is the word he used to describe how he feels. I've been thinking about this partly because he is a friend (as much as anyone can be over the Internet without having actually met) and partly because what he is going through is what many writers go through. Especially new ones.
For me, the worst rejections are the ones I don't expect. The ones in which I let myself believe that this time an editor will love my story as much as I do and snap it up without a second thought. When that does not happen, it's a long, hard, fast fall back to reality. I mope for a few hours. Then I remind myself of the hundreds of rejections that so many professional writers collected before breaking into the business. I pick myself up, dust off the disappointment and send the story to the next market.
I don't think this friend of mine is in the mood for a pep talk right now. Besides, I've done a lot of the Miss Psycho Pep Squad recently, and that sort of thing becomes stale after awhile. He has set himself a deadline by which, he says, he will make a professional sale or it will never happen. I think he'll meet his deadline. But if he does not, what then? Just quit?
It's a so-called moment of truth I suspect many (if not all) writers face at some point (or many points) in their career: Do I give up, or do I keep writing and submitting, writing and submitting, writing and submitting? Each writer, including my frustrated friend, has to come to the decision that's right for him or her. For me, I keep writing. There's a good chance I will never become a professional writer. But that chance becomes a certainty if I stop trying.
Bits and pieces:
-- I watched "Knight and Day" last night, an action-romance starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz that keeps its tongue firmly in its cheek. A fun movie, but not great. Not one I would watch a second time.
-- After much procrastination, I finally got around to doing the rewrite yesterday on a short story I wrote more than a year ago. It'll be going out on submission next week.
-- I went running with my 14-year-old son this morning and was quite proud of myself for almost keeping up with him most of the way. When we got back to our house, I was drop-dead tired; he had hardly broken a sweat. I remember being young like that.