It arrives impersonally, in the mail. “Not a fit for us,” “Not suitable for our current publication schedule,” “Too heavy for us”. Some trickle in couched in comforting words “You are good but this is not you,” “Go back to the drawing board”. “Start over”.
I sit and stare at the words on the screen, each hammering the nail of self doubt in deeper. I feel hot tears prickle at the back of my eyelids. I scold myself for overreacting and tell myself that if I work on it one chapter at a time, it is do-able.
I sit back, pull my novel up on iBooks and read like a reader would. I cringe. I wonder what the hell was I thinking. Each additional page I turn pops out passages that reek of mediocrity. I am now seeing everything through the lenses of others.
I give up after two chapters. I stare at the project on Scrivener wondering if deleting the 50K words I slaved over will give me the spark I need to start over. My mouse hovers over the trash bin and I stop. I am reminded of the many regrets I have over pruning Facebook, deleting 10 years worth of emails on one moment of frustration.
I leave the laptop and step away to fold clothes instead. One day turns into two. I am now convinced I can only do short passages. 1000 word pieces that draw from my experiences. Fiction is for story tellers and clearly I am not one.
This morning, I scroll through twitter, clicking on blogs by writers, publishers and editors. The universe seems to be sending a message. Maybe this is not the book that will be published. Perhaps I am years away from that printed book in the stores. Keep the spark alive. Keep writing they exhort. Track your progress they urge. Look back and count your wins they say. You are further today than in the past.
I am torn. I am taking a break I tell myself. I will return to writing when I can look at it without fear. I will come back when the story flows from within. When it does, I will trap it in words, embellish it with imagery, polish it and send it out. Until then, this dream shall rest.