First of all, this post may not be about what some of you are thinking. Sorry to disappoint you. I never kept a “little black book,” or whatever its electronic equivalent is called nowadays, of female acquaintances, and most certainly did not document the uncounted rejections, dumps, mutual partings, and various other dating failures I’ve experienced. Sure, now that I think about it, maybe I should have. It probably would have made for some highly embarrassing and entertaining blog posts now in the present. And not that I don’t remember some of them. But as far as my ever writing about them . . . I think maybe bribes would be necessary. I have, however, documented another type of rejection I’ve suffered much more commonly in my past, and at times just as painfully. Thatsa what I’ma talkin’ about here.
A few evenings ago I was sorting through a couple of old file boxes. Once in a while I’m able to get myself into a mood to go through old documents/receipts/etc. in order to shred and get rid of some of my biomass of unneeded papers. Some of the things I’ve shredded recently, like old utility bills or telephone statements, have been up to 30 years old — things I should have gotten rid of 25 years ago.
And some things are a bit harder to decide about, like old college papers. Will I ever have a desire to go back and look at those things, research information in subjects I left behind with careers many years ago? Same thing with information/manuals/guides from jobs long gone. I don’t know. But more and more I find myself opting to get rid of these things.
Given the extreme life changes I’ve (sometimes grudgingly) survived over the past several years — declining health, misdiagnoses, failed treatments, employment and unemployment roller coaster rides, loss of wife and daughter to divorce, loss of the house I’d been remodeling myself over the past dozen years, a strong dose of depression . . . I’m not sure whether this purging of other old things I’ve been holding onto is a good sign or a bad sign or neither. All I can say is that it feels good to offload these things, this baggage that I’ve been carrying around, in most cases, across many years and multiple U.S. states. Maybe it’s partly because with these things, I’ve been able to make my own choices, when it feels like so much of what I’ve lost the last few years have not been my choice.
Then there are the things that, without hesitation, I’ve decided to keep. One of the little file storage boxes I opened up the other night contained binders and assignments for a Writer’s Digest correspondence writing course that I took probably a little over two decades ago. I haven’t delved into the files and binders themselves yet, but I think it was specifically a novel-writing course. It also looks like I have a few folders there with some original chapters of my novel, a novel that I completed in 1992. I was too tired the other night to look more carefully at the material then . . . but I must say, I am looking forward to going through those lessons and that old writing and the comments from my instructor, well-known fantasy author Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. I’m kind of savoring the little journey back in time, especially since I’ve spent many of the intervening years not writing anything, and now I’m in the process of rewriting that novel.
But I found one other little thing in that file box that pleasantly surprised me. It was something that I had not even remembered existed, yet I had obviously been using it, pretty religiously, for over a dozen years.
It was, in all its glory, pain, joy, and unremarkable simplicity, my Little Notebook of Rejections.
I only give it that name now. It seems an appropriate title, perhaps conveying some sense of the notebook’s importance that I only now can place upon it. Back then, I don’t think I’d given the little spiral-bound notepad any real name. I probably just thought of it as my submission log. A handy little place where I recorded information about my writing that I sent out to try to get published.
This little notebook, I must say, is something I’m very glad that I’ve kept, that I still have. I don’t think that many of the short stories or other pieces that it refers to are still around anymore. True, I would not have missed the notebook since I hadn’t even remembered in recent years that it existed, but I’m glad now that I have it.
In my next post, My Little Notebook of Rejections — Part 2 I think I’ll call it, I’ll take an in-depth look into that little notebook, compile some of the rough statistics (and some bad titles) it provides about my early writing endeavors, and talk about some of the memories, highlights, and lowlights it brings back. Hope you’ll stop back. In the meantime, and as always, I welcome and appreciate any comments, questions, suggestions, humorous anecdotes, or tearful pleas.