Monday, August 10, 2015

Invest Your Ego Elsewhere

81º ~ feels like 88º ~ one more day of heat advisories with a temp of 102º before the index and then we cool down to the low- to mid- 90s. Ah, summer in the mid-south.

While I've been away from the blog these last two weeks, much poetry work has continued on. I've been revising and polishing, and I did start sending out new submissions. I'd sent out a few in June as well, and as the timing would have it, just as I started to send out new work in August, the rejections from June started rolling in.

Yes, rejections still sting, even when they are "good" rejections as two of these were. Yes, the rejections mean I have to dig a little deeper for the motivation to submit more work to the world. Yes, this is the nature of being a working poet.

All of this recalls to mind some advice I received in the late spring of 1999. Lo those many years ago, I traveled to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to check out the MFA program there. On that visit, I met the amazing poet Alison Pelegrin. As we chatted over drinks, I must have asked her for some advice about entering the program. She turned to me and said, "Invest your ego elsewhere."

What followed from there was a discussion on group dynamics and competitive natures in workshop, but we also talked about writing and publishing in general. The truth is, as it ever was, there will always be someone out there publishing in your "dream" journal when you get rejected, receiving the award you were just sure you would receive, getting the slick 2/2 teaching gig at one of the top 5 grad schools, and etc. Sadly, there will also always be people who need to talk down the work of others in order to feel better about their own writing. This is human nature.

To deal with what it means to be repeatedly rejected and disappointed, Alison's advice has never let me down. Yes, I celebrate my poetry victories and I am proud of every accomplishment I've achieved in writing, but victories and accomplishments can not sustain me and bring me back to the blank page. More importantly, they are fleeting, so there need to be other relationships and activities in my life that offer a more stable emotional reward. For me those include family and friends, my cats, collaging, and teaching. And chocolate, of course, you can never go wrong with good chocolate.


Shawnte said...

Important advice...especially the bit about the chocolate.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Shawnte!