A month of firsts

Oh, look. Snow.

Yes, it’s already that time of year. Actually, we managed to miss all but a dusting of snow last night, a rather pleasant surprise. But it’s blustery cold outside, so I’m mainlining tea, mostly to keep my hands warm.

In looking back over my notes, I’ve discovered that November is a month of beginnings for me. Strange month to pick, but so be it. November is my January.

How about a little story about November beginnings? On October 6, 2010, I sent out my first short story submission. I had no idea what I was doing, but I’d been reading Shimmer’s blog faithfully, and the posts there made me feel like maybe I could survive submitting something. Especially posts like this one.

So, I submitted to Shimmer. I told myself that my story would be rejected, and that it would be okay. I had a lot of experience with rejection at that point, having recently come out of querying a novel. I told myself that there were many many places to send a short story, and I’d just keep going.

I waited just over a month. On November 9 I received a rejection. It made my day. It made my week. It made me feel like maybe I was actually on to something with this writing thing, and not merely torturing my family.

Why? Because of one line: “I really hope you’ll send us more of your work in the future; we’d love to read more from you!”

There are times when writing feels like being a mole, with endless stretches of work underground, occasionally popping your head up through the soil without knowing what you’ll find–a forest, a field, a freeway. Personal rejections like that one feel like breaking through into fresh air and sunlight. Even when someone says hey, I don’t quite get this, but I wish I did.

Because ultimately writing is communication. Yes, it’s easier to write alone, to squirrel away your stories and poems, to stay underground. But by writing you’re admitting you have something to say, and it’s entirely possible someone else in the world would like to hear it.

Because of that rejection I blithely fumbled my way through two more submissions with that story. First short story rejection, first sense that a total stranger had found something of worth in my writing. Pure bumbling luck that both firsts coincided.

A last happens tomorrow, when “This Place From Which All Roads Go” becomes my final published story of 2012. The anniversary of another first happens this Sunday–my first blog post. November may not be the cheeriest of months, but it seems to have its charms.

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3 responses to “A month of firsts

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