"I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a
success at something you hate." (George Burns, American comedian, 1896-1996)
About three months ago, my best friend from college, who is a professional writer, sent me a message on Facebook. It said, "I think you should submit one of your pieces here," and had a link to The New York Times.
The New York Freaking Times.
They were asking for stories on Modern Love, and my friend suggested I submit one of my Joey stories.
Now, I may not be one those "funny" mom bloggers, but sappy, mushy, and emotional I can do.
And even though it was The New York Freaking Times, and I thought I had little more than a snowball's chance in hell of my essay being chosen, I decided to go for it.
I spent the better part of two months crafting a story that wove the tragedy of Joey's death with the miracle of Baby E's birth. It had great guts, but I had to write and rewrite both the ending and beginning several times.
When it was finally at a place that I could call it done, I e-mailed it to my "editor," my mother, herself a brilliant writer, who has been polishing my work since I was in high school.
As per her suggestions, I changed the ending again, and struggled to get the word count just right.
And then, I took it, and hit "send."
The information provided said to assume after four weeks if I hadn't heard back that they were not publishing my piece. I wrote "four weeks" on my calendar from the day that I had sent it. (When Hubby saw that, he said, "What the hell does 'four weeks' mean?" He thought I was pregnant again!)
I forced myself to not think about it. I forced myself to not think about how maybe, just maybe, it was good enough to be published in The New York Freaking Times. I forced myself to not think about how cool it would be to say that I had something published in The New York Times.
So I went about the business of writing and submitting articles to various on-line publications. And blogging. And waiting.
As the four weeks loomed nearer, and no one was biting on any of my writing, I started to get depressed. I started to wonder if I'm really as good at this writing thing as I want to think I am. The words of another college friend, who has shared some of my blog posts on her Facebook wall, kept popping into my mind: Don't let yourself get in the way of this, Kathy.
Because that's what I do. I get in the way of my own dreams. Being the queen of self-doubt, I take any rejection and non-encouragement and use it to fan the flames of my negativity and self-pity. I've only been writing for a little over a year, but many times I've wondered why I'm even doing it at all. Am I just wasting time?
Until last weekend, when I got an e-mail from another blogger. It seems she came across my blog via the friend who had been posting on her Facebook wall. She is launching a new website next month and asked if I would like to be a guest blogger.
I felt a little like Sally Field for a moment.
Of course I said yes, and I will share the link here when the site gets closer to launching.
I had almost forgotten about the Times submission, until I opened my e-mail yesterday and saw Re: essay on modern love. It had been exactly four weeks since I had submitted my essay. My stomach jumped as I went to open it, although I knew in my heart what it would say:
"Thank you for sending your writing to Modern Love. Although we have decided not to use your essay, we are grateful for the opportunity to consider it. I regret that the volume of submissions we receive makes it impractical for me to offer editorial feedback."
Wow, I got rejected by The New York Freaking Times! How cool is that?
You know what's even cooler? That I gave myself the chance to be rejected. That I didn't just say to myself, 'The Times would never choose my piece, so why try?'
Instead, I tried, and I'm doing what I love. And I'm resonating with people who are reading my blog. To me, that is success rather than failure.
How cool is that?
Have you recently tried something you've always wanted to do? Did it make you feel like a success?