On January 14, 2015, I went to New York to meet with literary agents about the book proposal for My Closest Strangers. The proposal was the culmination of more than a year of work. There were 100 fully edited manuscript pages, an extensive marketing plan, I had even hustled friends and colleagues for blurbs. It was a monumental piece of work that was quickly and resoundingly rejected – more kindly by some than others. I came home with the advice from the experts stabbed into my soul. I felt like a real writer.
I spent the next five months rewriting my book in the way that I thought reflected the advice. I bought another plane ticket and another dress and flew across the country with my hopes, dreams and words stuffed under the seat in front of me.
Round two went a lot like round one. It had moments of excitement, anticipation, anger, resentment, joy, grace, connection and ultimately – rejection. After leaving a meeting that didn’t go at all as I’d hoped, I walked several blocks before stopping at Union Square. The benches were all taken so I sat on a curb and wrote the words I share below. It’s raw and real and I had totally forgotten about it until a few minutes ago when I was rooting around in a folder looking for the most recent version of the outline of the book. Sometimes I forget the important things like how quickly life changes or for as intense as my feelings can be one day, they will be different later. I’ve always been a long distance runner, I like the view. What I see when I look back over the six years of researching and writing about connection and Facebook and having coffee with people and blogging and failing to blog and pitching a book and then pitching a different book is that time was spent working out something important. Something way more important than the structure of a book. The rejections gave me the time I needed to do that even if, at the time, I didn’t realize I needed it.
Another round of disappointments, rejections and confusing mixed messages. Here’s what I’m thinking…
-I’m placing a lot of weight on this and that seems to be a problem
-I’m so ridiculously codependent that I even want to please the 23 year old
-Rejection is very hard and very painful
-I feel like I’ve lost track of my vision for the book
-I feel like I’m running out of time
-I feel like this is my shot and if I don’t get it right, I’ll be stuck doing a job and being a person that isn’t the person I want to be for the rest of my life
-It’s embarrassing to fail
-All books end up in the thrift shop – or worse
-The trappings matter to me
-My ego is part of this even if I like to pretend it isn’t
-I don’t do journeys – I like finish lines
-I’m holding it all too tightly
-I feel like a fraud and I think if someone buys the book that will change everything
-My initial instinct and plan was to write the whole book – to sort out what it was before I took it out to try and sell it
-The idea of moving on to something else eased the tension and confusion right away
-I feel like quitting is failing
-Taking a break feels like giving in
-15N is going to be just as hard (That’s the name of the novel I’m working on)
-I’m not sure what I have to say anymore
-When I think about writing for an audience I lose my voice – stage fright without the stage
-Start it in the present and work back to the past
-Stop writing it all together
-I don’t want to do this forever (this book, not writing. I want to write forever)
-Finishing something really matters to me
-There are WAY TOO MANY voices in my head right now
-Thinking about the frustration of writing snippets well and not crossing over makes me want to cry
-I keep thinking there is someone better, smarter, more experienced out there to help me
-I am the author – I have to be the author
-I write well
-I want to move people with my words and I want credit for that – I want my name on my words this time
-I know how to argue and persuade but that’s not really in this work yet
What are the values driving this work? What is driving me?
-LOVE FIRST – that’s the beginning and the end of it. Do it because you love, do it to unveil love, to unmask it, to encourage it, to inspire it. Do everything to love.
-Enjoy it all
-Never stop exploring
-Stop counting – time, money, score
Thy will – into your hands I commend this work. I trust that you love me. I trust that your will is good and right.