The life of a writer

You know how we like to envision the “life of a writer” as one of delightful poverty*, endless rejection, and willing sacrifice in the name of art?  Yeah, about that.  

See, it all sounds so dreamy and bohemian and Moulin Rouge.  Living in a flat in Paris or Manhattan and burning the midnight oil writing brilliant think-pieces on a corrupt government or penning the novel that will change the world.  Doesn’t that just sound so dreamy? 

This is what it’s really like…

That’s not even the end of that screenshot, btw.  I didn’t have the heart to encase the entire list.  And that’s just for one piece!   I know, I know, I know.  You just gotta keep trying and keep going and JK Rowling had a bazillion rejections and they told Albert Einstein he was dumb, and blah, blah, blah.  

That’s lovely.  Really it is.  Three cheers for Jo and Al.  But damn if it doesn’t get tiring to get so many rejections.  It’s demoralizing.  I didn’t sit down today with the intention of throwing myself a pity party (table for 1) and I don’t need a round of pep talks but yet another rejection just arrived in my inbox and it’s got me thinking (for the umpteenth time).   How do you know when to keep going and when to call it quits?  Everyone always says “keep going, keep writing, you got this.”   But it would actually be a lot more helpful to me if folks would say “Nah, this one’s rubbish.  Time to move on to something else.”  Or would it?  I’m torn. 

Probably that’s a question only the writer can answer.  For now, I think I’m just going to console myself with stories of Stephen King, who keeps all his rejections on a spike on his desk and the grumpy words of Ernest Hemingway about some of his rejections…

Those stories. It was hard as hell to write ’em, but harder to have them rejected. When you get a printed form attached to a story you wrote and worked on very hard and believed in, that printed rejection slip is hard to take on an empty stomach. ‘Dear sir: We regret to tell you that your submission does not meet our editorial needs.’ Well fuck it. I regret to tell you that your rejection slip does not meet MY editorial needs. 

Hemingway in Love by A.E. Hotchner

*not an actual thing