Last month I wrote a piece for FlashFlood 2018, Ten Reasons to Write. It was silly, more about snacking than writing, meant to be amusing, but also mostly true. As my dear old dad (and no doubt many dear old dads) used to say, "We say in jest what we dare not say in truth."
I miss having someone in my life who says things like that. But I digress. What I mean to do with this post is share another reason to write.
The occasional e-mail from an editor that does more than communicate that someone likes my work enough to publish it, but that also makes me glow inside and think, "I really am a writer, there really is a reason for doing this, someone gets me, they really liked my words this time, my words, mine," and so on, a la Sally Field's famous Academy Awards acceptance speech.
Here's some of the wondrous note that landed in my in-box a few days ago. "We'd be pleased as punch to run this story in our upcoming issue if it is still available. . . you write such beautiful depth in your characters in such a short space. Thanks again for thinking of us as a home for your writing and well done."
Who could ask for anything more? Not me.
What made this acceptance even sweeter was that it was for a story that's been rejected many times, once with such vehemence that I was embarrassed for having dared send it out at all.
Among other things, the editors highlighted my, "weak characters . . . senseless chronology . . . wrong title . . . wrong beginning." And also this, the writer, "either submitted the wrong file version or decided not to finish the story."
Is my story beautiful, worthy of publication, with well-crafted characters? Or is it unfinished crap with a mismatched title? Both? Neither? That's the learning moment for me here. One e-mail devastated me. The other lifted my heart. Both are subjective. One editor's opinion at one particular moment in time.
Yet another reason to write. To communicate. I can't know how a reader is going to respond. Sometimes I'm thrilled, gratified and grateful. Other times I'm ashamed, chagrined or shocked.
Always I'm surprised.
All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
Dorothy, author of GRAY IS THE NEW BLACK, blogs about the challenges and opportunities of being a woman and a writer of a certain age in a youth-centric universe.