fear of failure, writing

Follow This Path Home

Every day is part of a story. Too often the big stories overwhelm the smaller ones with rumors of grandeur.

Right now parts of my life are threatening transition as others are in the process of transitioning. Toward the end of April I switched from a night shift living roughly between dusk and dawn to a schedule that plays well with the rest of the world waking up early in the morning and going to bed around the same time as infants and the elderly. Having more access to the sun I have felt better. I have slept better. With more sleep I feel more myself and less creature of the night. With this change there remains a lingering air of financial uncertainty and then there’s the end of the lease.

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As someone who has never had a family home I have often wondered what it feels like to know that there’s a place to return to when everything falls apart. I have always had a place to live but moving fills me with as much dread as elation. To move is to leave behind the certainty of one place and because I don’t pack lightly (minimalism has always rubbed me the wrong way) there is an ordeal to packing and unpacking when no place is home. Every place is as temporary as the rental agreement.

Looming ahead is July and the probability of a move that feels lateral at best. I recall reading Fight Club at eighteen and understanding the notion of “your things owning you” but disagreeing all the same. Soon I must go through my boxes that remain packed even three years on. When I left my ex I had nowhere to put bookshelves and so I left without them but I packed my books. I love libraries. There is great value to borrowing books. It is the value of community as well as literacy. But so too is there value in a personal library with books one returns to and pays full price for. Every time I have to pack I consider the notion that–perhaps I am too attached to objects I own. Sharing a little over 600 square feet with a cat, a dog and my husband leaves little room for my books. In theory we’ll move into a space with an additional 100 square feet but we haven’t inked the deal yet.

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Even as all of this looms I find myself in the smaller side stories of my life. Last week I received two rejections for short story submissions. I found myself surprised rather than upset. For years I have been too frightened to attempt short stories. Instead I have sought work in other fields for money and fought to write longer form fiction placing all of my eggs in one basket. The surprise wasn’t a shock at rejection. It was surprise at receiving a response. Applying for jobs is as blind a process as trying to write long form fiction. Submitting thousands of cover letters, resumes and applications over the years there is often little response and the responses are typically form emails saying, “you’re not a good fit but we’ve found someone amazing.” When I first learned about rejection letters I thought they would be searing and caustic but the two I received were nothing like I had imagined.

They weren’t explicitly encouraging and maybe I have learned how to accept rejection better but mostly it felt as though my work wasn’t just a fart in the wind. Both publications made mention of the work with a brief comment on how it did not fit with what they were looking for but that they enjoyed the read. Somehow my little side story felt more compelling to me than the weighty move that’s been consuming months of energy and effort. I’ve been lost in the wonderment over the exchange of effort. I always thought it would be simpler to submit my resume, write a cover letter and someone would recognize my labor as something which would benefit their business. This has happened but always in the dark. I put as much effort into the stories I submitted as the cover letters and resumes I’ve submitted but for once I felt as though the sun was rising and I could see my dim surroundings with some clarity.

Perhaps it was always foolhardy to put in such time and effort to work for companies who, for whatever reason, did not wish to respond. Even as I prepare to submit more short stories I realize there will be more silence and rejection. But I did feel beckoned to continue trying. To follow this threading pathway. Perhaps all the way home?

 

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