A collection of musings illustrating a modest estimate of one's own abilities.
Okay, I made up that word and the definition. But in all seriousness, this post is about feeling humbled. I'm writing these humblings from the breathtaking state of Colorado, while journeying across the southwestern United States. This photo was taken at Sand Dunes National Park near Zapata Falls, about a hundred miles from Colorado Springs, where my parents lived briefly before they were married.
I've had spotty Internet at best throughout the trip, which is just fine as I'm putting the finishing touches to the first draft of Cherry Lane via old school pen and notebook. But yesterday, while in a spot where I was able to check email, I received a rejection to a grant proposal I had entered for 2015 Minnesota Emerging Writers, which would have provided the opportunity to afford a professional editor's services, as well as a mentor throughout the arduous agent and publishing query process. And my heart sank a bit with the rejection, which read:
Thank you for applying for the Emerging Writers Grant this year. If you are receiving this message, your application did not make it into the semifinal round.
As a writer myself, I know this is not happy news. The judges this year, very experienced, remarked on how large and talented the pool of Minnesota writers is. There was very little agreement among the judges about who to pick for the semifinalists, and some even asked if they could add more applicants to the semifinalist pool -- and some of you came very close to making the semifinal cut. All of this is to say, there is a tremendous amount of talent among you. More talent than we have money to award..."
There were around 300 applicants, which didn't seem like that much to me, yet while my logical brain knew that my chances were very slim, somewhere deep down I was full of hope. One can't help but take their first rejections personally — I mean, you're pouring your heart and soul into an enormous piece of work, so if someone is not interested in it, that must mean you suck, right? I didn't even make it into the semifinals round...
I think that's a pretty universal depiction of how most artists feel until they've experienced enough rejection to toughen up a bit and stand purely on the merits of why they are creating in the first place: because they must. Because that restless little voice inside won't let them sleep until they let out the muse, so to speak. So while I am just as excited about this writing journey as I was the day before receiving that email, I must admit, it is a shattering blow to the already fragile creative ego.
I'm reminded of a writing contest I'd entered last year, sponsored by one of my favorite authors, Clive Barker, in which there were also around 300 competitors. The goal was to write a 2,500 word short story inspired by one of his recent paintings. I didn't win that one, either, nor did I place 2nd or 3rd or at all, for that matter. But I really enjoyed writing that piece, since it spoke to me and came from the deep rumblings of my inner creative well.
And you know what? Clive Barker, one of my creative idols, one of my favorite authors ever, read my story. He read my story. How amazing is that?
So that's the attitude I will maintain going forward: there will undoubtedly be countless rejections, but no matter what, just by the act of creating in itself, I'm going to cause all sorts of reactions — good, bad, and everything in between.
I'm not doing this to be liked, after all, I'm doing it to be impactful.
And that's a pretty damn good goal to have, when you think about it.