"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


When I opened my e-mail this morning I scanned for a certain name, and didn't see it. Equal parts disappointed and relieved – today was notification day for the status of submissions to a local literary journal – I moved to the top of the page and began working my way through the blue dots. I'm not sure how I missed it the first time, but halfway through the list of messages, there was the name I was looking for. My heart flipped, my lips twitched up, and I wondered which of the two stories I submitted they liked best.

I've become a veteran of these messages in the last year. With two exceptions, they've all been some form of "no." And one of the exceptions became a "no" after it was a maybe. My reactions have been fairly consistent. Disappointment. Fear. Sadness. Then a determination to move on, buoyed by a certainty that I was doing exactly what I was meant to do, and this was just part of being a writer.

When I opened the latest message this morning I was confident this was going to be the one to turn the tide. I'd selected the publication carefully and submitted the best work I have to offer. I did everything right, everything I knew to do, everything that was expected and more.

"Unfortunately, we did not select your work for publication."

It was kind, as rejections go. Hundreds of submissions for tens of places in the journal. Feedback to follow. Encouragement to keep trying. 

Today, none of that mattered. I don't know if it was my expectation and hope, or if it's because today is the last day of the school year, or if it was just one too many and it came on another cold, wet day. Today I couldn't find a way to make that rejection okay. 

A year ago I was celebrating my flight into this new world of writing. I'd been gathering strength in the nest for years, and fledged into the wide open sky last June, wings strong. Like the fledglings I've been watching all spring, my flight wasn't always smooth, and I flapped from branch to branch as I grew accustomed to this new way of being. 

Today it feels like that message knocked me to the ground, much like the late spring storms we continue to endure unsettle nests and disrupt the less confident fledgling flights of this year's babies. 

As I struggled with my feelings this morning, I was aware of the opportunity this presented for me to stay in the present moment and to practice acceptance. I've been grounded before, and in much stormier circumstances than these, so it's not altogether unfamiliar territory. My pattern has always been to launch myself back into the sky in complete refusal to be on the ground at all, flapping my wings with every ounce of my energy, eyes strained upward and outward in a determined search for the biggest patch of blue I might claim for my own. 

I'm staying on the ground this time. For a while at least. The ferns are soft, the flowers fragrant, and from time to time the sun reaches down to warm my head. I'm resting. I'll let my feathers dry, see if I can find some nourishment down here, and wait for the sky to beckon.  


Niki said...

You are, clearly, a writer, whether on the ground, or in the air.

Buck up friend, blue skies ahead :)

Piecefulafternoon said...

Your writing today should be viewed by publishers - it is extraordinary. It also helped me in a time of disappointment - not over writing - but disappointment comes and knocks me over sometimes - and I rarely rest - maybe that would be better than fighting it all the time. Thank you.

She Writes said...

I like the parallels to life you are finding in nature! Good luck!

Jan said...

Yes, rest. Breathe. Soak up the beauty at ground level.

Love and hugs.

Wen Baragrey said...

I think it's times like this you just have to step back for a little while and let yourself recharge. The thing is, you're a writer, a real writer, and because you are the urge to write is going to win before long and you'll be right back to it again. Sometimes you just have to be good to yourself and recharge. *hugs to you*

Wanda said...

Some days just suck.

Tabitha Bird said...

Rejection sucks. And though we know it is apart of the writing process, it still SUCKS.
I know what you mean about moments and staying present. Life presents us with many. Hugs to you as your wings dry out. You will fly. I know it. Because all the birds in the sky are flying because they refuse to sit in the tree. I don't see you as a tree sitter. You have wings :) They will soar one day I know. They already do through this wonderful blog. :)

patti said...

Oh, dear Deb, your post screams professional writer. Dear fluffy catbird, I pray that you will believe what God is whispering and push away those prowling alleycats Doubt and Fear and write for that Audience of One.

It does take time to let feathers dry. But the Son will dry them faster and leave a heavenly scent!

You go, girl! Fly.

P.S. Sigh. This is a hugely common blight of being a writer bird. Like 50 to 1. But then that one.

And remember, He reads the 50. And REVELS in them.

fullsoulahead.com said...

What will it feel like when you find a wider audience for your beautiful writing?

Beacuse you will, so you might as well imagine, and get used to the feeling now.

Janna Qualman said...

An important thought was hidden right there in the post.

"I was doing exactly what I was meant to do, and this was just part of being a writer."

You still are. You will gain your footing, and you will go on. Meanwhile, enjoy the scenery, and the experience, of where you are. There is much to come out of it, I am sure.

Carrie Wilson Link said...


You are going to teach people to rest. NECBM of that!

Kathryn Grace said...

Well, crap. Crap, crap, crap. When you're rested, and the Earth has flowed a little energy back into you, you will put it in another envelope, lick a stamp and send it out again, right?

Deb said...

Some days you just need to feel sad.

Terri Tiffany said...

I come here now to take away renewed energy and determination to write as great as you do. Your words push me to reach for better descriptions and ways to tell the same story.
I understand rejection--over and over again and it isn't easy anytime. A few weeks ago, I wanted to give all this up for good.
But here I am. Still at it.

Amber said...

What Michelle said.

But I know how hard it can be to keep pushing off the ground sometimes. I know. I know. So you rest. But that is all it is, a rest.

And I love you and hold space for you while you do so.

:) oxox

Jerri said...

Take deep breaths and wait for the breeze. It will come. If you allow yourself to rest now, you'll be ready to fly when the time comes again.

Deb Cushman said...

Deb, it will happen. I have no doubt of that. You are an excellent writer with a strong eye for details and a delicate touch with words. You have a gift that is sure to be recognized by just the right editor at just the right time. Meanwhile, we will enjoy your observations and powerful descriptions.

kario said...

This week has been my first as a 'self-employed writer.' And I can't say I have approached it with anything other than trepidation.

Thank you for blazing this trail for yourself and letting me believe that I could do it, too.

I'm taking strength from your courage and I remain absolutely convinced that this path is the one for you.