This has been a long week, but then again, all weeks seem long in a pandemic. Even though I work Monday to Friday, I have to constantly remind myself of the day of the week. It all drags together in one slow-motion blend of stress. For that reason, I have taken up again my habit of saying things like “Happy Friday!” just to give myself a sense of normalcy, to impose my will on an abnormal situation. In the times before, I hated cues like that; it made it sound like I was wasting time just to get to the weekend. You pay bills and then die sort of melancholy. But now I cling to day markers to give myself routine. They are my lifeline. Funny how things shift in your mind sometimes to get through a crisis.
In writing news, I got my other expected rejection back, but it was another positive one, so I am encouraged to keep submitting. I think I will cut 100 words from this story to turn it into flash fiction and shop it around some more. I just have to quote this rejection because it was so good. “Thank you for submitting your story ___ to ___. Unfortunately, we have decided not to publish it. To date, we have reviewed many strong stories that we did not take. Either the fit was wrong or we’d just taken tales with a similar theme or any of a half dozen other reasons. Best success selling this story elsewhere.”
That may have been a form rejection, true, but I feel so inspired by it that instead of self-publishing this reject, I’m going to try again. I just can’t take rejections personally any more. I used to feel crushed by them, but I think I conflated my worth as a person with what other people thought of my writing. I don’t need external validation to know I’m a good writer. And I don’t need to be a good writer to know I still have worth as a person. I don’t even need to write at all to understand that. Everyone has worth, no matter what they do for a living, no matter their passions, no matter their hobbies.
So far that means my total is four stories submitted this year; outcome — one acceptance, three rejections. This includes two positive, non-form rejections. I would say that is a good rate. The other difference with the last two stories is that I was trying for tougher semi-pro markets, which are more competitive and set a higher bar for quality and originality. I probably should keep trying some more of the for-the-love markets. I’ll just pick the places where the stories fit the best.
I plan to work on a couple of new stories this weekend and also finish a story I have been working on since December, but ignored for a few months. It is the dark comedy about my “Ambrosia Brockton” character on the space station, with the sentient robots that take over the station. This one I think I’ll self-publish because I just want to be done with it. I think I jinxed myself by talking about it too much in those WIP chats on Instagram. Then I got stuck on it and put it on hold for a few months. I always hate looking back at old stories and have to hold my breath to look back at the quality of my writing, but I still would like to finish this one. I think it is a good idea and I would still like people to read it.
I haven’t done much but lie around today. I am getting over a headache. But that’s okay. I have four days off this weekend so that is still plenty of time to be productive. I’m not the type who wants to write even when I’m not feeling well. You don’t produce your best writing that way; you just turn into a workaholic. There is no glory in pushing yourself past your limits. Even writers need breaks.
In personal news, I did not get selected for grand jury duty, so I was relieved about that. I am now excused from grand jury summons for the next two years. It was the best scenario possible. I wanted to serve, just not in a pandemic.
I’m in a better mood this week, so I have started working on some of my healthy habits again. I have started practicing my flute every day; I just missed Friday. I am trying to get in a 15-20 minute bodyweight routine in a few times a week. I am using an app called Sworkit.
I also bought a guitar. I finally got my stimulus check, so with it I purchased a Kindle and this guitar. I am saving the rest, as tempting as it is to engage in online shopping. (After all, I am saving up for a new computer and new camera, or for contingency in uncertainty, whichever comes first.) I ordered a Yamaha FG800. It should arrive here next week. I have always wanted to learn a second instrument and I liked the idea of a guitar because it is fun to play by yourself or with a group. A flute is more fun to play in a band or with others. I think it’ll be easier to pick it up from videos and books because I can already read music, and my partner used to be a band teacher, so I can ask him for help on the basics. And a guitar is easier to learn than a violin, cello or oboe, the other instruments I was considering. Music will benefit my life; it has always helped me in the past.
Additionally, I hope to bake chocolate chip cookies this weekend and work in the garden. In normal times on Memorial Day weekend, I would be going for a hike. Parks are reopening here, but I feel reticent to hit the trails just yet. I envision crowds of young people not wearing masks. I just don’t want to deal with the stress of other people not taking this pandemic as seriously as I am. I would rather walk in the neighborhood, where it is easier to cross the street if you run into people.
I also hope to lurk some more on social media. I feel less stressed out when I tweet less, so I think staying away from screen time will be good for my brain.
I haven’t been sleeping well again, aside from a couple nights where I finally got quality sleep and hoped I had turned a corner. I keep getting dark, twisted, epic nightmares, and then not remembering them, though I suppose that is my brain’s form of self preservation, so I am grateful to not remember. Lots of people are experiencing stress dreams these days; so no, it’s not just you. We are going through a global trauma, after all. I believe dreams are the brain’s way of processing unresolved emotions.
So in short, I’ve never been one of those writers who writes well when things are falling apart. When I take care of myself, I can maintain a good attitude about rejections and criticism, and I can keep going with my writing.