I hope we’re not talking about my love life.
Ironically, I’m writing this blog on the evening of March 21, more than two weeks early, since (knock on wood) I should be in Oslo, Norway, on April 6 when this is scheduled to be published. I say ironically because Romance Writers of America’s RITA and Golden Heart finalists were announced today, and I wasn’t one of them.
(As a basketball player, I always think of words like “rejected” or “rejection” in the context of a blocked shot, when the crowd shouts REEE-JECTED, emphasis on the drawn-out first syllable.)
The day they announce RITA and Golden Heart finalists is a craptastic day of rejection for almost everyone. I am no exception.
Many years ago, soon after I started writing, I finaled in the Golden Heart contest for my very first manuscript. The next year, when the finalist call didn’t come and didn’t come, I finally made a huge pan of mac and cheese around 4:30 p.m. and inhaled the whole thing in record time. My finalist call came 15 minutes later. Ooops. I was probably the only finalist who was equal parts elated and horribly sick to my stomach.
I’d like to say that I’ve changed and become a better, more Zen-like person in the intervening years, but I just finished eating chocolate babka and a huge Cadbury Dairy Milk bar. (They were delicious, thanks.) So, I still feel the sting of rejection.
|For the record, Hugh Jackman has never caused me to eat a pan of mac and cheese.|
Actually, though, I have changed over the years. Around the long-ago time I ate that pan of mac and cheese, a wise friend gave me some fabulous advice. She said it’s okay to wallow, pout, eat ghastly amounts of comfort food, and scream at the Universe over bad news, but only on two conditions: (1) do it privately, not in front of others and especially not in an oh-so-public venue like Facebook or Twitter, and (2) quit wallowing after 24 hours, period. I still follow this advice faithfully.
As a result, today I had lunch with a nonwriter friend and told her about today’s REEE-JECTION but didn’t say a word to anyone else (until writing this blog; lol), and I did eat that chocolate babka and Cadbury bar (again, delicious), but when I wake up tomorrow I won’t give it another thought. New day, fresh start, yadda yadda yadda.
Agent rejections? Same.
Editor rejections? Same.
Major life losses and other calamities? Same.
I can wallow with the best of them — although you’d be a rare person if you ever saw me do it — and I endured a crisis last summer so massive that I fried my cell phone just by holding it in my freaked-out state, but I wallow silently and for no more than 24 hours, tops. As time goes by, in fact, I now get over most rejections, disappointments, and calamities within an hour. As a practical matter, I’ve also come to realize that I can no longer physically afford to eat a pan of mac and cheese in a crisis. (I am not 16. Who knew?) Today, wise beyond my years, I console myself instead at Five Guys. Or with chocolate babka. Or a Cadbury bar.
So maybe I’m not quite perfect at this yet. Give me another 20 years, okay?
Mary Strand is the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras and three other novels in the Bennet Sisters YA series. You can find out more about her at marystrand.com.