Pattern or Particular

So I've been dispirited recently. Yes, because of the election, but not only because of the election--this stew of feelings is pretty complicated, and the world seems to include a lot of people yelling at each other while others are stunned or cowering.

I recently teased out one feeling as being a problem for me: familiarity. So much today feels so familiar, in a bad way. Especially the loud messages of "you're not good enough" and "you're fundamentally flawed" and "stop taking it seriously" and "you're not important" and "you have nothing of value to offer." They're very destructive messages in a pattern I remember too well. They sap my energy.

Coincidentally, the lingering warm weather vanished, and we've been deluged with winter weather. See?
Hello, snow!

Yes, it's pretty.

But winter weather brings with it a new pattern of living. So many elements of living in the country are different in the winter.

For example, power is iffy. We were without electricity most of the weekend (and still don't have our landline phone back, which is a bigger inconvenience than I anticipated in these wireless days).

Travel is complicated. We need to leave more time to drive anywhere than we did last week at this time.

Preparation is key. We need adequate accessories--mitts, scarves, ear-warmers--because if a highway is closed or something else bad happens, we need to be dressed for the weather outside the car, not just the climate-controlled interior.

These aren't huge impositions--just patterns of behavior we'd forgotten during the warm months of the year, which lingered later than usual this year.

We'll adapt. Pretty soon, we'll automatically add 15 to 30 minutes to each trip to town. We'll start the day wearing enough clothes that we don't have to add a layer at 10. We'll have remembered where we keep the candles. We've already found the percolator that works on top of the woodburning stove--progress!

The familiarity of those patterns isn't problematic. And when I began to look at the messages that I heard as "you're not good enough," I began to see that sometimes, the issue was with how I heard the message, not the actual message.

Yes, throughout my life, I've heard a lot of the other kind of "you're not good enough." When a coworker got the same raise I did, even though his work was substandard, "because he's a man and supports a family," for example.

But not all of the recent, familiar messages of "no thanks" are part of that pattern. They're particular to my work, and I need to remember to hear them that way. Because rejection is part of the world of writing. Having WRITING rejected--my work, not me--is normal. I never exactly enjoy rejection, but it happens. Not everything I write will speak to the places I offer it. I've written before (geez, quite a bit, apparently) about mismatches between my work and publications.

Recently, I submitted something to a publication because what they'd published in the past resonated with me. However, when I saw some of the other work they were choosing in response to this particular call for submissions, I knew mine wouldn't interest them. Which is perfectly fine--it's their publication. It's also understandable, because the work that moved them didn't speak to me. Again, a mismatch.

So the recent rejections are particular instances. They may be part of a pattern of rejection OF MY WORK that I can address by better research, better revision, better targeting. But they aren't a wholesale rejection of me, my voice, what I have to offer.

As a human person, I look for patterns. Sometimes that ability works to my advantage. But sometimes I see a general pattern when I should see a more particular message. Shaking off that familiarity--and its friends, futility and impending doom--lets me get back to work.