There comes a moment in every aspiring writer’s life when all the planets align and all the pieces fall together and he’s been spit out of the whale and can finally proclaim, “I’m a real boy! A real boy!” and then break into a song. Wait, sorry, that’s actually a scene from Pinocchio. I need to stop falling asleep in front of the TV.
In the past month, I’ve received two rejections from publishers, the first ever in life. Angie, my literary agent, has been sending the manuscript off to a few publishing companies, and we have been waiting for the rejections to come back like random hummingbirds returning home after a long migration. And just like hummingbirds, the rejection notices are small, short, usually no more than three sentences, and piercing. And they’re beautiful: flittering multi-colored jewels of dream-crushing beauty.
But don’t worry. These rejection notices make me happy. Although they are not favorable, they are a sign of progress, of movement. Plus, these setbacks make the final victory all the more wondrous to savor. Today while grocery shopping, I saw cherries being sold for $2.99 a pound. Cherries! In the winter! I scoffed at them in disgust, and thought of all the poor misguided souls who would buy them in hopes of capturing their exquisite summer flavors. For a brief moment I thought of hiding in the baking aisle and when a sucker comes to pick up a bag of cherries, I’d jump out, grab him by the collar and yell “You insipid fool! Eating cherries in the winter is not the point! Have you no understanding of the joys of life?! It is anticipation that sweetens the fruit!”
I’ve told you before that when I have a kid, I’ll plant a cherry tree, and it will be symbol of all the paternal wisdom I will pass down to him. “Huy Jr.,” I would say as we sit on the front porch and sip lemonade, “soon we’ll have cherries for the first time. These cherries will be all the sweeter because they only ripen for two weeks each year. Imagine if you can get cherries year round, will they each be as sweet as the ones from this tree? Or if they are from another tree, one we didn’t plant, will they be as sweet?”
“Yeah, sure, Dad, whatever…” he would say affectionately.
“Of course not! When your father was younger, Huy Jr., he wrote a book that he tried to get published. Rejection after rejection letter came. But your father knew that eventually, one day, all his efforts will pay off, and the waiting will make it worth it. For you see, if he never received those rejections, he wouldn’t appreciate the final moment when things came together. And some day they will for me, son, some day they will. Do you understand?…Put down your Nintendo DS before I whoop you.”
So you see, my friends, rejections, like many things in life, have their purposes and are meant to be savored. And if anyone needs me, I’ll be underneath my desk, in the fetal position, savoring them.