On Monday Bonnie gave us some great advice on handling rejection. Important stuff, because the only way to escape rejection is too sad to consider. Ask nothing of life and it won't tell you no.
I especially liked Bonnie's suggestion number 6: "Have a concrete plan for improving as a writer." There is such hope, such stubborn faith in that: like praying for rain, and taking your umbrella though the sky is sunny blue.
But I'd like to add a seventh tip:
While you wait, write for someone, somewhere. Publication will be nice when it comes, but it won't make you rich or perfect or erudite. It will make you lovely new friends in unexpected places, but you can make friends now. I suggest you make art, and offer it as a gift.
Write a play for your church. Write a story to read to the children. Write anything for anyone, and get your work out into the world. Just be sure to first follow's Bonnie's advice, and make your best work better.
There are important matters at stake.
I recently ordered a new book by Gregory Wolfe, publisher and editor of Image Journal. Its title is, "Beauty Will Save the World." (Just the sort of title to make me don my beads and sandles and cry out for "truth, beauty, freedom and love!"*)
The reason I want to read this book - besides its title - is that its description hits on the sorts of things that keep me up nights:
We live in a politicized time. Culture wars and increasingly partisan conflicts have reduced public discourse to shouting matches between ideologues. But rather than merely bemoaning the vulgarity and sloganeering of this era, says acclaimed author and editor Gregory Wolfe, we should seek to enrich the language of civil discourse. And the best way to do that, Wolfe believes, is to draw nourishment from the deepest sources of culture: art and religious faith.
Impatient for the book to arrive, today I tracked down an interview in ISI Books, in which Wolfe reveals more of his thinking. He refers to a book that sparked his imagination: "Four Cultures of the West," by John W. O'Malley. As he explains it, O'Malley's book lays out four "languages" we speak as westerners. (I had to read the paragraph a few times to understand, so I'm paraphrasing for you here, but please do read the whole interview.):
- The religious
- The academic
- The literary arts
- The visual arts
Wolfe goes on:
The first two—the religious and academic cultures—are extremely powerful but they tend toward abstraction and ideology unless they are balanced by the second two—the literary and visual arts—which clothe ideas with concrete metaphors and lived experience.
Do you see what he's saying here? It is your work as an artist to put flesh and bone to the abstractions with which we struggle, day to day, thus making the struggle more human, more eye to eye than fist to fist.
The interviewer asks:
You’ve been a critic of the “culture wars.” Why?
To which Wolfe replies:
Because in the end they have become more about each side preaching to its own choir than a real political struggle over real issues. Cultural change occurs not because of the arguments we win but because the stories we tell are more compelling, more human than those told by others.
Could you tell a more compelling, more human story? Could you try with all your heart and soul?
If so, then what you do is too important to let a little rejection still your voice.
Make beauty. Give it as a gift.