Saturday, January 25, 2014

Rejecting Fear, Returning to Hope

Yesterday was a mostly good day, although we got a few spurts of bad news at work, numbers never where we want them to be, which always generates a flurry of e-mails.  Those e-mails came relatively late in the day, which meant I got to enjoy some calm before the bad news.  I worked ahead on some projects and did some sorting.

We move offices in a few weeks, and we'll have significantly less storage.  Through the years, I've been collecting picnic supplies:  cups, plates, plastic wrapped packets that contain a knife, fork, spoon, and napkin. Every time we've had an event and there have been leftover supplies, I've snagged them.  Now we won't have room.  My colleague friend at work is having an art show opening reception this week, and she can use these supplies.  Hurrah!

I'm sorting through books, moving the grad school novels to the free stuff to take table.  And people have taken them.  I have a vision of a student saying, "I loved Middlemarch when I was a kid!" or "Wow--I've always wanted to read Great Expectations!"  Likely not.  But I do hope that those books will get one or two more lives before they disintegrate.

I also had time to work with a colleague on creative writing.  We traded stories, read and discussed, and then had a lovely early lunch.  She asked if I had a query letter written for my memoir, if I had sent my short stories off to journals.

She asked the pertinent question:  "How will your publisher find you if you don't get your work out there?"

I used to be better at getting my work out there.  When did that stop?  In part, when I moved into administration and in part, when my spouse left his 60 hour a week job.  In part, I used to believe that publications would open the doors to better jobs, and so I was super-motivated.  Now, I'm not as sure I believe that, and thus, I'm not as relentless about submissions.

I'm grateful to my friend for reminding me that I need to get back to the submission side.

But let me not forget to record a small success on the publishing side.  I've been asked to contribute prayers for the 2015 edition of Bread for the Day.  Hurrah!

And it's good to remember how I came to have this opportunity.  I wrote a query letter to Augsburg Fortress, a Lutheran publisher.  I proposed a book of devotions based on the weekly Gospel in the Lectionary.  My proposal was turned down, but the editor kept my materials in her files.  Five years later when one of her projects needed more writers, she thought of me.

The lesson for me:  even a rejected proposal can open doors.  It may take some time, of course.

And here's my fear:  I worry that I'll have a big project accepted, and I'll have trouble finding time to make the revisions or do the promotion or . . . there are so many ways to fill in that blank.

But let me not dwell on my fears today.  Let me begin to percolate ideas for a query letter for my memoir.  Let me choose my best 5 stories from my linked collection and decide where to send them before the end of February and where I'll send them after that.

And let me not forget to dream big.  My friend asked me a few weeks ago, "Have you given up on the idea of a bestseller?"  And the answer is, yes, maybe a little.  Let me work hard to reject that kind of despair.

No comments: