I found out today that I did not win or even place in one of the contests I entered. Sigh. I keep thinking of my friend Jennifer, who made a resolution one year to get more rejection slips, because she said that meant you were sending things out and not letting them languish in a drawer or notebook. Rejection is still one of the hardest parts of writing for me, and it’s very difficult not to slip into self-doubt and discouragement. Part of me wants to rip that poem to metaphoric shreds, while the other part knows I should be thinking about where to send it next.
Any tips on getting over rejection?
I don’t journal, and sometimes I think I’m the only writer around who doesn’t. But then I remind myself that I blog regularly, which is a version of journaling, I guess. But is it really, when you’re writing in public? There’s so much in my life that I would never blog about, so it seems like a bad analogy to journaling for me.
But notebooks- I have scads of those, some from my childhood, lots from now, spanning years and years. Those notebooks vary– some are hard-backed and cloth covered, some are moleskines, some spiral notebooks– and the content inside is certainly varied. Jottings, half-starts, finished essays, writings that are poetic but not quite poems, to-do lists, lists of in-progress works, taped-in pages of magazines with contest info or submissions requirements, writing goals by month and year: they’re not quite journals, but I think anyone who actually sat down and went through them would know me perhaps better than most of my friends would.
I can’t imagine being a writer without my notebooks, even though I’m typing this blog on my trusty Mac laptop. I need my notebooks for the moment at the red light when I jot down a line or sentence, or the time when my students are taking a quiz and I need to start a poem, or when I just need to get my hand moving again to start to feel my writing muscles slowly limber back up. Today I paged through one I had found in our library and it reminded me of a goal I had scribbled down weeks ago, to get back to a story abandoned earlier this year and begin a whole new revision and drafting process on it. When I run dry in one medium, I often shift to another, and finding that notebook today helped me shift out of my poetic block and back into short fiction, for which I am actually fresh because I haven’t touched a short story of mine in months.
Tell me about your notebooks– I bet every writer reading this keeps one, whether you blog or not.
I’ve been trying not to think about the contests my poems are in now but have been unable to move onto other writing projects. It’s very rare for me to have nothing going, nothing on the front or back burners, but I’m just feeling very still, writing-wise. Not frozen, not necessarily blocked, just poised in mid-air, waiting to move forward but not knowing just where or how yet.
I don’t feel this way in the rest of my life– in fact, things in my life are moving along at quite the breakneck pace! But my writing self is hovering in the air like a hummingbird, waiting to find some way to land or a new horizon to fly towards.
(That last metaphor was kind of overwrought, but hey, I’m blogging about writer’s block! Cliches and overwrought-itude are kind of required)