I had a very, very bad day yesterday.
It was very, very bad.
I mean not like the worst day of my life bad, but pretty rock bottom.
I don’t even want to talk about all the horrible, repulsive, repugnant things that led to the bad day. And it wasn’t just the things that happened yesterday, it was everything building up, like the detritus of leaves and sediment clogging a storm drain; I was cut off, empty on one side and flooded on the other.
The detritus in my life is rejection. I am endlessly pitching a story, submitting an essay, applying for writing fellowships and asking (begging, pleading) for someone to read my words. My inbox is a pile of thanks but no thanks and close but no cigar rubble. There are notes that begin, “we want to thank you so much” and end with “due to all the emails we get we cannot reply,” which really means “do not contact again loser.” Really, they should just ghost me and block me.
Rejection is a kind of failure; but I know, I know the only certain failure is not trying—you have jump in the pool to swim, it’s better to have loved and lost, science is 99% failure, learn from your mistakes, blah, blah.
I mean, really, I GET IT. But if you saw my inbox, you might get me, too.
Writing is not for anyone with a thin skin. But, my skin was thread bare yesterday.
By the end of the day, I was seated in this dramatic Victorian chair we own, by a window, holding my kindle, sobbing because only books did not reject me, and staring off into the distance at nothing, contemplating if I’d focus on becoming a data driven digital marketer or maybe like a chief media buying officer of media buying or something similar that was adjacent to the creative life I am currently living but driven by data.
I am sure it was quite the picture of mental health.
Today, thought, I woke up, complained about everything as I usually do, mocked things like I am a late night talk show host, did not bother to look at my inbox (I mean I already know what will be in there) and then curled my hair, put on lipstick and set off for work. I had to go into an actual office today (like it was 2019!) and this brought with it a great bit of distraction and internal rallying (you cannot sob and stare off in an open office!). I had meetings and wrote things and interviewed this lovely clinician/neuro-oncology researcher about how she plans to make data collection and management a critical part of her brand-new lab—because working together and data sharing is the only way kids will get cures. I read some intriguing essays about the craft of writing. My bird buddy got it’s first bird (a Carolina wren!). My son smiled and ran to my car, ready to tell me about his day. My girls texted me that they loved me. And then, I had this crazy idea about an essay I’d like to write about names and flowers and somehow ended up on the greatest interview of the week with a marvelous, creative, thoughtful local florist, Michael Bruce, who is so much more than a florist and thinks about flowers how I think about everything—the connections, the braids, the parallel, the stories in nature that align with the stories in people.
Michael said to me, “Everything is forgotten. Everything is reborn.”
And I realized that yesterday I was just mourning all those ideas that were rejected. And today, I am celebrating that I can be reborn each day, with new ideas, new conversations, new directions and that crazy, impossible energetic hope—the kind of insane hope that isn’t driven by data but it is driven by the infinite possibility in everything.
And listen, tomorrow could be a total trainwreck, I know this. But I also know that there is the day after the trainwreck and that’s what I am here for.