Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentines Day Blues?

I've always loved Valentines Day.  It never really bothered me when I was single (at least not too much, anyway), because I've found that whether or not you're in a relationship with a significant someone, hopefully there are plenty of other people worthy of celebration in your life to whom you can show your love and appreciation.

Mine went particularly well this year--my number one Valentine and I have been on and off for years (gulp, nearly fourteen!!), and this was our second one "back together." And while it was more family themed than passionately romantic, we had a lovely experience that included dinner out and chocolates for everyone, our eight-year-old daughter included.

I went to bed feeling very loved and blessed and thankful for the people God has given me to love.

And then, I woke up to rejection, getting a taste of what some of the poor, awkward middle-schoolers I chaperoned at yesterday's heart-plastered holiday dance go through on the daily.  Checking my email, I felt especially keenly why the bitter, lonely, or amused and disgruntled have decidedly declared yesterday "Singles Awareness Day":

I woke up to a form rejection from an agent, who was declining to represent the short story collection she'd requested to read in full a couple weeks ago.

Rejection is a part of the publishing game, so it's not especially disheartening.  Writing and reading are subjective, and what one person enjoys, another does not.  This one did hurt though, not just because it happened the morning after Valentines Day, but because the querying process had BEGUN on such a high note.

I'd only sent out five letters in search of an agent when I received a very positively worded (but probably form) request to read the rest of the manuscript.  It was the very first response I'd received, so I was at a 100% request rate (short lived as it was).  I was feeling quite excited and encouraged.

But, such is life.

So what, I was rejected the day after Valentines Day. (I won't give the exact details, but while the letter certainly wasn't cruel, it was also a far fetch from a kind declination, which are also blessings to an extent, because at least they tend to praise aspects of the work and give legitimate reasons for passing).

I can think of many other highlights (lowlights?) that both pertain to my writing and other endeavors in life.  I might not be the girl who gets dumped (by a boyfriend, not an agent) the day after Valentines Day, but I am  (or have been) all of the following:

  • The girl who got dumped on her front step on the exact day I'd bought my prom dress.
  • The girl who received yet another rejection letter from a submission of a full manuscript (this one on my most recently completed fiction novel) from an agent on her birthday.
  • The girl who was very excited to receive a third place medal upon finishing her very first five mile race. (Come to find out, there were only three runners in my age group.  Fail.)
  • The girl who, out of all drivers to collide with on the road at any given moment, managed to rear-end the superintendent of the school district I was employed with at the time.

Yes, I'm no stranger to rejection, bad luck, and crappy timing.

 But, I'm still a believer. 

I believe in love, and also believed it was out there before I'd experienced it.

I believe in putting in one hundred percent, even if you finish last.

I believe that good can come out of even the lousiest of situations.

I believe in the God who loves us all, who gave us a gift far greater than chocolate, flowers, or jewelry, in the salvation found in His one and only son, Jesus Christ.  And I believe in the talents and desires God has blessed me with and planted in my heart.

So I'll keep writing, because while the publishing industry isn't exactly fighting over me yet, I don't do what I do for them.

I do it for me, my God, my family, and my friends.

And if I happen to pick up some more fans along the way, that would be fabulous.

But whether you're being dumped at the prom, celebrating marital bliss at a 25th anniversary, or anywhere in between...  Whether your dream is on the verge of coming true, or you're not yet brave enough to whisper it out loud...

You have to own it.

You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else.  Seeking your own validation through someone else will always lead to heartbreak, if your happiness is dependent upon some definition of who you are through someone else's eyes.

I think writing is like that.  I see myself as a great writer.  I don't mean to brag about it.  Not everyone will agree, and not everyone should agree, because we all have different tastes as readers.  But I write what I love to read. Because my writing brings me joy, I believe my words have the power to reach others in the same way.  But even if they didn't, no audience or publisher or agent could ever convince me that I'm not a writer.

So for me, I just keep writing, taking the rejections in stride. 

I had to be happy with who I was, seeing myself the way God saw me, before I could ever really learn to be happy in a romantic relationship.  I am so thankful to God and my Rashieme, that we are very happily treasuring each other, in the adventure that is our day to day relationship.  But it didn't happen over night.  We each had much to realize on our own before God could bring us back together.

And though I'm currently single in the author-agent realm, I still see myself as the writer I think God created me to be, knowing that if no one else ever read another word I wrote, that would be okay.  So because of that, I believe, God will take care of the rest.  I think He will bring success in His own time.

And if He doesn't?

Well, I wrote some pretty cool stuff trying. 

So whatever your dreams and passions are, I hope you don't allow anyone else to fizzle them out.  I hope you love yourself, embrace your gifts, and most of all, I pray you know the God who blessed you with them.  No matter who is rejecting you, there is One who loved you so much, He declared His affections before you were even born.  He spoke you into motion, loving each detail about you, designing each and every detail to his exact specification and liking.

You are beautiful just the way you are.  Embrace your talents, love your life, and give it everything you've got.

Happy Valentines Day, everyone.  Or better yet:  Happy So-What-You-Were-Once-Rejected Day. 

Don't look back.  Just look up.

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