If you read my blog entitled “Before You Write” which was about how disorganized I was in my early writing days, you know I had a box filled with various versions of a book entitled Training Tommy which was published by a small press in 2001. It’s not that great of a book, but it’s the first one I published on my own. Why I was saving these old piles of paper of this manuscript in its various versions I have no idea. That ship has sailed.
I threw out everything in that box today. Correction, I threw out almost everything. I saved paperclips and rubber bands and any of the paper with a blank side. I’m a big proponent of reusing and recycling paper. The rest of it went first into my recycling basket and I estimate I had at least twenty pounds of paper by the time I took it out to the recycling bin. Included were past critiques from various critique partners along with queries and rejections from various publishers. I have no idea why I kept it or why I kept it for this long. It’s useless.
In reviewing the file folders on my shelves and my boxes of old manuscripts I discovered some other disturbing items. One was a file folder labeled “2000 Rejections.” Meaning, rejections from editors and agents from the year 2000. I also discovered a file full of “Kaylee queries.” These are (rejections) for A Month From Miami, which was published in 2009! Again, why have I kept these?
I daresay I’ve kept every rejection from every agent and editor I ever queried.
Maybe I thought I’d need these old rejections because someday I’d have a point to prove. I’d thumb my nose at everyone in publishing who turned me down way back when and say “nanananana” the book(s) you didn’t think were worthwhile were published by someone else.
As if anyone would care or remember.
In a little book I have called God Calling edited by A.J. Russell, there is a passage for May 29th entitled “Forget.” I quote part of that passage here:
“Breathe in the rich blessings of each new day—forget all that lies behind you. Man is so made that he can carry the weight of twenty-four hours—no more.”
This entry resonates with me. I realize I have been carrying around the weight of all those rejections for twenty-plus years. Each time I walk into my office, they’ve been sitting there, taunting me. Haunting me. Even though they’ve become part of the landscape of the files on the shelves or shoved in a box somewhere, a part of me knows they’re there.
Maybe they’ve been whispering to me all these years. Saying things like, You’re not good enough. You write trash. No one will ever want to read what you wrote. No one will ever publish your manuscripts. ETC.
Maybe all these years I’ve listened to those whispers and a part of me believed it. I’ve allowed myself to nearly drown under the weight of past rejections of my earlier efforts. How unfair have I been to myself?
I will continue to clean out my shelves and boxes. Instead of pitching those rejections into the recycling bin I should probably burn them to make sure they’re really gone. I learned everything I could from them a long time ago.
They may be part of my history, but they have no part in my future.