Last night was rough. I got the Morton prize rejection and didn't make it even into the semifinals (again) and it's so hard to keep up hope. Rejection is not a new thing to me and I know that it comes with the territory, but...
Then they included reader comments, and a couple of them really cut me to the quick—they were general, and they were presented as blanket statements, which made it easy to assume that if my manuscript didn't make it into the list, it fit their statements. Reading them over this morning, it mostly wasn't so bad, except a still of them are still perturbing—a reference to "two styles most prevalent…a tired, almost stubborn adherence to narrative, and an airy, ironic detachment, with a fleeting interest in any particular subject matter." Ouch.
Then: "favorite manuscripts were capable of both play and insight, humor and strong emotion—preferably at the same time." Of course. But I thought that my manuscript was doing that—okay, maybe not at the same time.
I'm trying to remind myself that I don't have to go back and rip my manuscript apart based on these general comments about a plethora of work, perhaps none of it mine. Maybe because I have a stressful week at work, or maybe because I haven't been sleeping—I don't know why, but this rejection felt like a punch in the gut. My skin is still thin this morning. And take a deep breath.
I also was inspired on Sunday to apply for the Artist Trust Fellowship, and five days is not a lot of time to prepare a coherent application. Not a lot of time at all. I have ideas, but I don't know whether I can pull them into something thoughtful and professional by Friday. Would it be better to skip it and concentrate on my reading Thursday night? But the more I think about it, the more ideas I get. That's a good thing.
Everyone encounters rejection—and stress—sometime, somewhere. How do you meet it?