Rejection slips from on high

Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Being a writer definitely has its own set of the job hazards. Besides the obvious risk for carpel tunnel syndrome, nasty paper cuts and puncture wounds from staples, there is the ever constant threat of receiving a rejection slip in the mail.

Over time I have learned to cope with rejection without cursing God, needing psychotherapy or Prozac, or drowning my sorrows in a thick rich Ghirardelli chocolate breve topped with fluffy whipped cream and little chocolate sprinkles on top. Ok, I fictionalize a little. Chocolate really does cure a variety of disorders and covers a multitude of cellulite sins, all over my body!

However, I have learned that rejection is indeed good for my soul. That which does not kill me only makes me stronger, right?

So as I sip on my heavenly treat, I hum old gospel blues and re-read my rejection letters and my manuscript, focusing on where I need to improve my craft in order to strengthen my chances for success.

Occasionally the editorial deities are kind and I am allowed the occasional acceptance letter. I rejoice and sip away as I read and reread and contemplate framing the divine notice.

I have another profession. I am a mother. According to Erma Bombeck, the late matron saint of writing, motherhood IS the second oldest profession. (I wonder if writing was the oldest.)

Recently my teenaged son stopped in my office, a hole in the garage, flashed me an angelic smile that even Mother Teresa would have found hard to resist and he began his petition for a brand new pair of shoes (read, NIKE, read, expensive). I replied that I would have to think about it.

I have learned that it is true that words are indeed mightier than the sword; they are no match for arguing with a teenager and it is far easier to take my pen, rather than my foot, out of my mouth. How is it that a kid who cannot remember to take out the trash or turn the lights out can recite verbatim when you caved and said yes to something under pressure?

I decided to think on it by writing.

I petitioned the gods of wit and wisdom, the muse of inspiration, the fairies of flair and the elf of eloquence to shower me with the epiphany of thought I would need to deal with my son's recently acquired inability to accept NO for an answer.

I sat down at the keyboard and attempted to connect it with my inner source of Zen.

What happened next was no less miraculous than the Immaculate Conception. What a concept, why had I not thought of this earlier?

Hurriedly I composed a reply to my son. Oh, the inspiration; oh, the power. Forget the kindness of repaid karma and gushing gifts from the goddess of prose, I was a god.

The printer hummed out a sweet chorus of amens as the last inch of paper slid neatly into the tray.

I began a pagan dance that was some cosmic interpretation of a rain and a fertility belly dance, and I read and reread my rejection letter to my firstborn son.

Dear Pre Adult,

Due to the unusually high volume of queries regarding access to our check-writing partnership we regret to inform you that we are unable to process your request at this time.

Please be informed that our decision is in no way reflective of the quality of our love for you.

A good review of our parent guidelines will confirm that although it is our mission and obligation to cover your body (and feet for that matter), it is not in our policies to decorate your butt or any other part of your anatomy. Vanity is not a genre we consider.

However, you are under no obligation to remain unemployed.

Best regards,

Mom and Dad

P.S. Please take out the trash.

My son walked in on my little unorthodox ritual and I handed him his copy of the N.I.M.V. (new inspired mother's version) of the gospel as I understood it.

After my son read it, he did not openly accuse me of blasphemy, nor did he seem to indicate a thunderbolt of enlightenment had suddenly brought him to a new level of consciousness and understanding of the universe in general.

He grumbled. A lot.

Then he stomped off in his perfectly average size elevens and grumbled something about getting a job.


Jacqueline J. Michels has five children, ranging in age from 19 to 4. In addition to being a mother and writer, she also is a student at Kenai Peninsula College and has her own flower business. She has lived on the Kenai Peninsula for eight years.

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