A week or so ago, my sister Sherri and I went schlepping around one of the artsier nearby towns with the hopes of finding a good place to host her work for sale. She got some business cards and advice (“cats sell.”), so it wasn’t an unsuccessful attempt, but mostly it was inspiring to see her taking the initiative. Call an artistic high or just a touch of friendly sibling competition, but whatever it was, I wondered why I hadn’t done the same thing with my writing. At least, not in earnest.
So I came home, fired up the laptop, and started poking around some online publications, hoping to find a home for some of that poetry that languishes on my hard drive. I chose one I’d been lurking about for a while and read over the submission guide, gathered a few poems that might work, edited them down, wrote the cover later… and backed out of clicking submit.
And so the document sat on my hard drive for a week. Fear was the culprit. Fear that I wasn’t ready, that my little writings weren’t good enough, that they were the wrong fit, that they still needed work. When will I be good enough? I thought about it off and on throughout the week and tweaked my cover note until I couldn’t stand to look at it, but I couldn’t bring myself to actually send my little words out into the world.
But then on a particularly quiet Saturday morning, I opened the file and, fueled by 11 hours of sleep and a shot of optimism, I sent it in.
My polite rejection email arrived about two hours later.
When I saw it, sure, I had that punch-in-the-stomach feeling. I didn’t even get the chance to fret over waiting or process the almost-certainty it would be rejected. But then came the idea that maybe, well, this was some sort of badge of honor, my first induction into the “Real Writer’s Club,” where everyone gets together at the local pub and cries or boasts a little over the rejection letters that wallpaper their writing rooms. Maybe I should print it out and hang it on my wall, so it can look at me daily and remind me that I tried.
Or maybe I should do the normal thing and go into “I’m an awful writer!” self-pity mode.
Either way, it feels okay. Maybe “good” was a little too strong a word. “Okay” works.
I’ve spent the majority of my life waiting to be “good enough” for nearly everything. I needed to be a good writer before I put my work out there. I needed to be a good speaker before I could be on the radio (oh yeah, I should blog about that weirdness sometime…) And so the list goes on. This need for absolute certainty of not failing holds me back more often than not.
Sending three little okay poems out into the world? Maybe it’s a step in the right direction. In a sense, it feels like a beginning.