Katy’s post about having your work rejected brought back a memory.
(Now, let me begin by saying that I really wish I weren’t so weird.)
About 15 years ago I was going through one of those famous re-assessments of reality that lesser women call depression, and I decided to clean house. Literally.
I started with a bunch of papers in my office. One set of papers was the original manuscripts of my first book: written by hand on every other line of 20 spiral notebooks. (I was a terrible typist – though I typed the second draft on what I regarded as the result of direct inspiration, that others called erasable bond. The third and fourth drafts were typed at my expense by a professional.)
Those went in the barrel first. After all, wasn’t it prideful to think that anyone would ever be interested in the first draft of my first book? You’d have to be famous for that to matter to anyone, and there was no reason to suspect anyone would ever care. (Told you I was, um, re-evaluating.)
The second set of papers that went into the barrel was a fat, fat folder of papers. It would be prideful as well to assume anybody would be interested in how many times my work had been rejected. You see, I’d kept all my rejection slips, starting in high school; and yea, verily, there were a LOT of them. And I used to think everyone would be amazed at my success when they saw how many times I had been unsuccessful. So keeping them, I reasoned, was a kind of hubris. (Did I mention that I was low?)
So I found a great use for rejection slips. Firestarters. They burn really really fast and hot.
See, rejection slips can have many uses. Here are some more:
1) Origami practice.
2) Packing materials.
3) Office basketball.
4) Office volleyball.
5) Aerodynamics study.
6) Emergency fingertip surgery.
But what rejection slips cannot, must not be used for is to define who you are. Like the cresting waves of labor, each one brings a dedicated writer closer to a shoreline of achievement. Through them you learn what is marketable and what is not -- for that particular editor, for that particular publication, for that particular time.
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." -- Hebrews 12:11, one of the foundational verses of my life.
Come on, help me out. What other uses can you think of for rejection slips?