I received my first rejection letter last week. It’s not the worst thing that can happen, but it sure wasn’t awesome.
The letter was simple, running briefly along the lines of, “Your story didn’t place, please submit a story again another time.”
Isn’t this one of the requirements to becoming a “real” writer?
Anyways, between the rejection letter and preparing for a new semester, I’ve been thinking a bit about worst-case scenarios. What actually is the worst thing that can happen?
I listed some bad potential situations to myself when I was preparing that story for submission, and when getting ready for the new semester. For the story: rejection. Which wasn’t fun. But my worst-case scenario for that involved the people rejecting the story informing me frankly and without sympathy that the story was absolute bantha fodder and I should never try to set pen to paper or finger to keyboard again.
That didn’t happen. They were actually rather nice about it. And in any case, even if they had told me that, would I have listened? Probably not. I spent months on that story, writing, rewriting, sharing it with people who know what a good story is, and I believed in it. I might have tried to alter my writing style a bit to appeal more to the publishers, but I wouldn’t have stopped or tried to delete every file that ever existed relating to that story.
For school, I listed out even more potential disasters. The girl I never got along with in middle school being in every single one of my classes was one. Somehow losing my textbooks and making my professors hate me was another. Tripping and getting blood all over my clothes was a scary enough idea that I made sure to have band-aids in my schoolbag along with the textbooks, notebooks, writing utensils, and everything else I decided I’d need. I worried for a while about having a panic attack in the middle of class and being written off as crazy. Having too much homework to ever hope to have time to do everything else I need to was another one.
This is my fourth semester of college. None of those things has happened in the past, so far none of them have this semester either. Maybe I’m a little paranoid.
The point is, the bad things you think might happen aren’t usually as bad as you thought. Really, really bad things do happen, have happened, and will again, but I’ve found that we humans are resilient beings. We won’t enjoy the terrible awful things that happen to us, but we’ll get through them more or less intact, especially when the terrible awful things are actually the everyday disasters that really aren’t so awful when we get some distance from them.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get some readings done by Wednesday or my professor will turn into a fire-breathing demon…