I’ve been laying a bit low these past couple of weeks. You’re familiar with the drill: the hoopla of Thanksgiving leading to the crest of the hill you barrel down until you smack into Christmas like the landlady in Kung Fu Hustle sailing into the billboard. (Click the link; you’ll see what I mean.)
Add to this that I’ve been a bit tense … anticipatory, really … because the proposal for The Man Who Loved Elephants had gone out to a few editors before the Christmas publishing holidays. I feel strongly about the quality of this book and its historical value, as well as its hopeful look at the future of elephant conservation.
So far, the editors haven’t agreed with me.
I’ve been writing long enough that I take criticism and rejection on the chin most days. You can’t be an artist or performer of any kind and maintain a fragile ego. The two just don’t go together. Still, receiving five rejections in a single day was a bit … disappointing.
These were not “thanks, but no thanks” rejections. The editors took time to write out their thoughts about the book and give actual reasons for turning it down. This is a courtesy I truly appreciate, though it didn’t make the sting any less.
I’ll be honest – I cried. For about fifteen seconds. Then I heard THAT VOICE rising from the back of my brain. You know the one, the monkey-mind that snatches opportunities like this one to remind you of how worthless you are. I heard her start to open her big mouth, and I said, “Phyllis, shut the hell up.” (Well, I didn’t say hell … And, yes, I’ve given my deprecating inner voice a name so that when I tell her to can it, she knows I’m speaking to her. It works.) (And, yes, if you want details as to why I’ve done something that on the surface probably sounds wonky, shoot me a message and I’ll tell you.)
Anyway, she did as I asked. And in that silence, I heard myself say, “Screw them.” (No, I didn’t say screw, either). “I’m not giving up.” I gave myself permission to feel my bruises, and then I went to bed. I slept soundly and woke the next morning to plunk myself back at the computer because THAT, dear friends, is what it’s all about.