So here’s the thing.
Because you – I – call myself ‘a writer’ (because it sounds better, when I’m asked what I do, than saying ‘erm … ahhhhm … err … Well I’m sort of a stay at home mum (whose part time mothering habit leaves her in an empty nest for most of the year)… and wife … and I write a bit’.) I keep writing despite the rejections.
But, even in age and after a huge, huge amount of practice (at receiving rejections and trying not to weep for the futility of it all) dismissals of pitches/submissions/essays still sting. The email comes in, you note the sender, register the subject, allow your heart to soar by the teeniest degree, and then you read the message and the bottom falls out of your world. For a bit. Just a bit. An hour. An afternoon. A day. Depending on the effort involved, the enthusiasm, the hope. Yesterday a computer generated rejection to inform me that my submission had not made the longlist – and no, the fact there were hundreds of entries, all of sterling standard did not help; the attached tips on How to Write Better only made it worse. The day before an emphatic No from an editor based on sample pieces he’d requested and I’d carefully, carefully honed and sent.
I often question the hours spent crafting words, conjuring up ideas to send to editors. I’ve sent thousands over the years. Most have been ignored. Or turned down. A few have led to stories that never ran. The occasional one morphed as ecstatic bylined publication. But it is, on balance, in the cold light of day, when one calculates effort in/profit out, mostly a waste of time. (But Time is something I can afford to fritter a little).
And I love language. I read a cleverly fashioned phrase on a page and I savour it as you would an exquisite taste on your tongue. I roll it around and dissect it and notice that each word has been carefully chosen to colour the expression more vividly so that it sits perfectly: a line of art that delivers much more than just neatly arranged, properly punctuated, letters.
Finding precisely the right word for a given slot is a joy. (I can spend an inordinate amount of my TooMuchTime on 500 words).
Like finding the piece you’ve been looking for to fill a gap in a jigsaw.
And so I suppose that’s why I keep doing it? Writing. Calling myself A Writer?
I’m filling gaps.