I sent a pitches to some Very Big Magazines today. After I hit send on the last one, I breathed a sigh of relief that immediately turned into panic, and to me refreshing my email every five seconds.
So I did what I say I never do during the workday: housework. I stripped the beds, did the laundry, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, then, when the sheets were clean, re-made the beds. In the process, I was reminded that I am an abject failure at such a task. My grandmother ironed her sheets. I can’t even tuck the sheets in properly. And don’t even get me started on the duvet cover. I ended up throwing it on the bed, walking the dog, and nearly dissolving into a pile of rage and tears about my lack of housewifery skills.
Of course, my ability to make beds is not a reflection of me as a person, or of my writing skills, and this entire episode is rather embarrassing. I share it because it shows how freelancing and rejection can be a very emotional thing, even if you’ve been at it as long as I have.
I worked hard on those pitches. I already got a “perhaps” response to one from a place that is a real long shot, and even though I should be pleased that this editor responded at all, I am still unsettled that he didn’t reply with “This is brilliant! Write it tomorrow and we’ll give you big buckets of money!” My ideas have been rejected a zillion times before, but I still go into these things optimistically because otherwise I’d never pitch a story again.
So failing at something like bed making that I already know that I don’t do well (and honestly don’t care to invest a lot of time learning to do well – that’s probably a Jezebel piece) didn’t help.
I’m asked often if there’s any way to get around the pain of rejection. Not really, except to not take it personally, and don’t let it stop you from pitching Very Big Ideas because if you don’t take a shot, the answer is always going to be no. You will get used to it after a while, but, as I learned today, you can’t beat yourself up if the waiting, or the sting of a “no” or even a “maybe” gets to you.
And maybe do something you KNOW you’re good at while you’re waiting to hear.
I’ll save the duvet covers for another time.