The Writer's Fantasy

Hey, writer: what's your fantasy?

Spielberg calls and wants to adapt your story for his next blockbuster, which is guaranteed to win both critical acclaim and bonanza bucks.

A publisher calls: she wants the story you're struggling with AND has developed technology that can lift it directly from your brain onto the page so that the story is in the perfect form you imagine it to be, not the slightly altered form that you're capable of actually writing IF you were actually capable of writing it and not stuck, yet this form of ESP is enough work on your part that you will also get to bask in the glow of work that's hard but not too hard.

Whew. Neurotic much?

OK, so what I experienced this week isn't perhaps a writer's ULTIMATE fantasy, but it's close.

The rejection was wrong. It was all a mistake! They want it after all!!

Actually, the mistake was probably mine. In the past 18 months, I had submitted (according to my spreadsheet) three pieces to this journal. In April, I received the third rejection. It was their really nice rejection, very encouraging, but it unmistakeably said "no."

I try for humility but I am not immune to the writer's ego, so I was (ahem) mildly perplexed at this disagreement. The story I had submitted had received some recognition (though not publication, sigh) previously. I was proud of it. The journal I had targeted was really its perfect destination -- the subject matter fit, the revelations fit, the themes fit.

And yet: the rejection. Nobody's favourite thing. However, I'm getting enough of them that I am increasingly philosophical. Lots of good writing is out there, making the rounds. This piece will find its home. Something will appear. Blah blah "positive self talk" blah.

I also joked, semi-seriously, with my sister and husband and a writer-friend or two: "What is not to love about this piece? What is wrong with this crazy, crazy world?" That kind of thing. However, and this is important to me, I tried really hard to allow for differences of opinion about the fit between this piece and the journal -- without making either of us wrong.

Then, this email from that journal offering publication, with a contract, even!! The rejection had been for a different piece, something I'd submitted long ago.

Rejoicing ensued.

The publication credit itself will be great, and when it's closer to time, you can bet I'll do some shameless self-promotion.

Truthfully, though, I'm most happy that I was able to continue to believe in the piece and in my judgment for sending it to that journal, even when I thought the journal disagreed.

Because publication isn't about a fickle finger of fate in an insane world. It's about human choices. Humans make choices, and other humans disagree, and nobody has to feel embarrassed or talentless or stop writing or putting out publications, and nobody is wrong, and let's join hands and sing kum bah yah.

We want the same thing, whether we come at it from the writing or publication side: we want good, solid writing to be available to thoughtful readers who are interested in expanding their horizons.

Maybe THAT is my ultimate fantasy.