There are a plethora of important days in a writer’s life. (Pardon my use of plethora, but it’s such a keen word.) But, in my book, there are 48 hours that stand out from the rest. They are far from the most fun, but a lot hinges on how we choose to handle them.
Day 1 – The First 24 Hours at Ground Zero
You receive a rejection letter or slam into a serious setback. I know there are some who say it’s best to roll with it. Rejection is knit into a writer’s life and there’s no point becoming unraveled by it. I commend you for your ability to be cavalier, but I can’t manage it myself. The times I’ve tried only came back to chomp me. Stuffing the sadness caused tears to erupt at the oh-so-wrong times, so I’m better off taking 24 hours to wallow and be a wreck.
I say, allow yourself to free-fall into the velvet bean bag chair of despair. Lie on your back and let the tears collect in your ears until it sounds like the ocean. Ask a musical friend to set that sadistic, frozen-hearted rejection letter to music–in a minor key. Eat your weight in whatever sweet or salty concoction delights you. Imagine the source of your angst tethered to a termite colony wearing only plywood underpants. Get those toes curled deep in the Quicksand of Certaindoom. Hand your friends and family this form too:
I AM AN AUTHOR. I AM IN NEED OF IMMEDIATE INTERVENTION.
My name is: _________________________________________________________
(I suggest using your real name here, not your pen name. Make it easy on the first responder.)
Emergency contact: __________________________________________________ Genre type: (PB, MG, YA)
(e.g., Agent; Nearest Living Author Friend; Ben and/or Jerry)
While you are waiting for the Emergency Contact to arrive, follow these five simple steps:
Step 1 Check to make sure I’m breathing.
This step is especially if you found me face down in the area rug. Wave a Lindt truffle next to my nose to revive me.
Step 2 Do NOT apply logic.
Even small doses of logic have been known to be toxic at this point.
For example, these seemingly sensible words will NOT help:
“You’ve only tried two editors, right? You can try more.”
“Maybe it’s not you. Maybe the editor was just having an off day.” Liar.
“There’s always next year.”
“It’s not the end of the world.” Yes. Yes, it is the end of the world. The sun will not come up
tomorrow, no matter what that Annie girl says.
Step 3 Do NOT offer compliments, such as, “Well, I really liked your story.”
I don’t care. Your opinion doesn’t count right now. It will tomorrow (provided there is a tomorrow), but not now.
Step 4 If I look like I’m trying to put on a brave front, induce tears.
Force me to re-read the rejection letter out loud in front of a mirror so I can see how pitiful I look. Offer generous amounts of Kleenex.
Step 5 Apply ice cream to the site of the babbling in liberal doses.
To the rejected writer: Be sure to write your kind first responder a thank you note. That is, when you feel like writing again.
Day 2 – The Next 24 Hours at Resurrection Central
Today is the day you get on with it. Attitude follows action, so act like you’re bouncing back and you may actually believe it. (Besides, if you spent the first 24 hours wisely, you won’t want to curl back into the fetal position.) You’re now ready to stretch and stand up straight. Breathe. Wash your tear-streaked, Hershey’s Kiss encrusted mug. Pull on a fresh pair of big girl panties. Put on real I-can-be-seen-in-public clothes. Open your laptop. Pop open a file filled with half-finished projects. See what’s going on in there. It’s likely there’s something you like. Maybe even love. Type. Type again. Type some more. You see there, my little Puffalump? You’re going to be okay. I will too.
If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces. ~ Shane Koyczan