WARNING: May contain naughty language.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

More on Rejection

I have the pleasure of working for a very progressive software company which places a high degree of value on hard work and having fun. A very open organization, my employer hosts a HUGE event every September for our 12,000 customers. Each year they solicit employees for ideas and abstracts to present during the event. For the past 4 years, I've been accepted and had a great time presenting my content in front of hundreds of customers.

Until this year.

I got rejected. By work. To present on a software package I helped create! Following Kubler-Ross to a tee, my reaction was as follows:

DENIAL: "What? I think they sent this email to me by mistake."
ANGER: "Fools! They'll rue the day they did not choose me to present my material!"
BARGAINING: "Ok, what if I make it shorter and include a section where I'm juggling flaming chainsaws? On a unicycle?"
DEPRESSION: <surly silence>
ACCEPTANCE: "I think they're doing the event in Vegas next year! I should probably start preparing now."

When I think how many rejection slips I've received from various publishers and editors over the past 5 years, I have to grin. This? This is nothing.

"You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.” – Ray Bradbury

“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.” – Sylvia Plath

“Rejections slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil – but there is no way around them.” – Isaac Asimov

“Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.” – James Lee Burke


“Rejection has value. It teaches us when our work or our skillset is not good enough and must be made better. This is a powerful revelation, like the burning UFO wheel seen by the prophet Ezekiel, or like the McRib sandwich shaped like the Virgin Mary seen by the prophet Steve Jenkins. Rejection refines us. Those who fall prey to its enervating soul-sucking tentacles are doomed. Those who persist past it are survivors. Best ask yourself the question: what kind of writer are you? The kind who survives? Or the kind who gets asphyxiated by the tentacles of woe?” – Chuck Wendig

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Off Balance

So tired.

Not from work, not from writing nor the act of living as opposed to existing. My fatigue stems from the never-ending barrage of intolerance, senseless violence, stupidity and a surge of "groupthink" not seen since the days of the Weimar Republic.

This is juxtaposed by the wonderful experience of sharing my father's 80th birthday over the weekend with family and friends not seen in decades. A celebration of a full-life and respect.

Too much of the good and too much of the bad leaving me swaying in the wind.

I won't chime in on my opinions on the horrific shootings in Orlando - there is ample text found on the Interwebs already. It does, however, remind me of a quote from Walter Jon Williams;

"I'm not afraid of werewolves or vampires or haunted hotels, I'm afraid of what real human beings to do other real human beings."

The shootings at Pulse leave me cold yet furious. But what really scares the shit out of me is the "business as usual" attitude displayed by so many in positions to actually change things. The NRA, the politicians on the take from them, the rigid and narrow minded views of Muslims by so many and just the rampant idiocy one sees on the news every night.

In the past I've voted both Republican and Democrat. I consider myself a "Rationalist" as best I can be. As such, I take on the responsibility to actually think for myself, to research and seek facts, not paid endorsements by expert pundits. I seldom like what I find under such rocks, but that is the trade-off of free thought.

Knowledge comes with a price if you're doing it right.

When I think about voting in November (and I WILL vote in November) I'm reminded of the "Would You Rather?" game we used to play in middle school as a kid.

"Would you rather go down a slide of razor blades and land in a pool of alcohol or have a 16 pound bowling ball drop on your nut sack?"

And so on. This coming election could be a lot like that...

Too many Americans are frustrated and angry at our government and are lashing out like villagers armed with pitchforks and torches, seeking a non-existent monster. We should be instead directing that energy towards other pursuits; pursuits which just "might" have a positive outcome despite the odds.

Just please don't ask me what those things are. I'm at a loss.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Leveling Up and Punching Water

To be honest, this has been a tough month as far as submissions and rejections go. Hot on the heels of attending an invigorating writing workshop in San Antonio, I promised myself to follow Uncle Jim's (Jim MacDonald - teacher extraordinaire from Viable Paradise) advice on writing and submitting one's work.

"Submit, submit and submit - until the Devil himself won't take it."

That particular strategy has met with less than successful results.


In the spirit of finding a silver lining, I have realized one important aspect about the rejection emails. They are NOT the dreaded "form R" in all the cases. Don't get me wrong - I'm not receiving detailed instructions on how to fix a particular work nor am I getting guidance on where to send the next work I create.

But what it means is that Very Busy People are taking the time to not only read my work, but take that extra 60 seconds to craft a more personal response. Which I'll take any day.

It means I'm "leveling up" - my skills are improving, I've adopted positive writing techniques at the unconscious layer and am incorporating lessons learned into my new work. It is still a struggle, no bones about it.

To borrow from eastern martial arts, I've mastered the basics of the form and must now redouble my efforts to transcend to the next tier. I can punch water with perfect form, but must learn to do so without making a ripple.


And that might take a while longer...