March 5, 1985 – Good Friday
I don’t take rejection well.
I hate the idea that I need someone else’s acceptance to feel good about myself, but I do – needing to become important through my writing, and thus feel alive.
I’ve put a lot of stock in my writing. So each failed manuscript or strong criticism brings on a massive amount of pain.
I like to blame my childhood and my mother’s madness, and how I lost identity when she paid so much attention to her voices. I also like to blame my father, who put me down in a crib when I was six months old, and then vanished.
But the real cause is inside me, fear of rejection, stopping me from doing things.
I’m surprised I can write at all with so much fear boiling up inside of me. But my writing is personal and full of unjustified hope, an unrealistic escape from reality. Unlike Michael, my rejections go deep into my soul. I find myself depressed for weeks even months afterwards.
I first thought of sending out back in 1974, but knew then I wasn’t ready. In 1977, I thought I was, and got so many rejections, I stopped sending out. In 1979 – after being fired from a good paying job – I tried again, this time fiction, but only to get rejected again, stalling any more attempts until 1981 when I began to transcribe my school journals only to get these rejected, too.
I remember how hurt I felt when I lost the school writing contest, and decided to start my own magazine so I could publish myself.
Last summer I sent out a whole batch of stories, each coming back rejected, some because they were printed out on a dot matrix printer, some because of misspellings, others because of other flaws.
It sent me into a tail spin. The depression came from deep inside me where my childish ego hid.
I keep wondering what kept the literary giants at their craft – certainly not happiness.
What keeps me from giving up entirely when so many people clearly hate what I do? Perhaps it is lack of preparedness (I hate to say lack of talent).
How do I beat down the ill feelings I get from being rejected?
I have to work at this more, fine tune this thing people call craft, find a way to become more successful.
But it hurts.
My whole insides hurt with the idea of failure, of my never making it out of this limbo of the possible to that solid ground of the accomplished.