Thursday, October 25, 2012

Creating Possibilities

One of my main reasons for starting this blog was to hold myself accountable for writing on a more regular basis. Thanks to these posts, and an inspiring writing group that recently welcomed me into their midst, I returned to my Laura piece (excerpts found here and here) after a year of ignoring it within the depths of my writing desk. After polishing up some old bits and laboring over new sections, I felt comfortable enough with my work-in-progress to use Laura’s story to apply for a fellowship. Although I wasn’t selected, I did receive a nice email back stating that I was one of the top three finalists, and I received feedback specific to my submission.

Write, write, write to create more possibilites
Don’t get me wrong, this post is not about rejection. I want to focus instead on possibility. In a way, the best part of the experience was when I carefully handed the padded envelope containing my submission over to the post office clerk. It was a moment to pat myself on the back for getting my act together, meeting that application deadline in my planner. For sending my words out into the world for critique, judgment, and…possibly…award. Hearing the familiar grind of the mail truck turning the corner of our street every day. Walking up the driveway after the delivery, peering inside the murky mailbox. Hoping to find a promising-looking envelope inside. 
And since we live in a technology-driven world, there was also Inbox checking and email refreshing. 
Waiting for that message with the desired Subject line.

While I was in waiting mode, I started thinking about The Bell Jar. I remembered that Esther had applied for a summer class with “a famous writer” who would read her already submitted manuscript and decide if she was “good enough to be admitted into his class.” It’s been a while since I read the book cover to cover, but I could’ve sworn that even after she returned home from those last empty magazine days in “the dark heart of New York,” the possibility of acceptance into the writing class was the last glimmer of hope keeping her afloat for weeks, months, as she shared a lifeless house with her mother in the dull Boston suburbs.

As I skimmed through the book yesterday, I realized I hadn’t quite gotten the timeline right. She finds out about her rejection right after the train pulls into Boston, before she even sets foot in her house. Behind the wheel of the family car, her mother tosses some letters into Esther’s lap…

“I think I should tell you right away,” she said, and I could see bad news in the set of her neck, “you didn’t make that writing course.”

The air punched out of my stomach.

All through June the writing course had stretched before me like a bright, safe bridge…

Like I said, this isn’t meant to be a post about rejection. Yes, you’d have to be some kind of robot if rejection didn’t set off even the faintest siren of doubt in your mind; but isn’t the best feeling – maybe even better than actually winning – those moments in limbo, after you’ve set yourself up for consideration?

The only way to ride that high of writing possibility is to write lots, strive for more clarity in individual artistic expression, and send more submissions into the ether - all to create a multitude of “bright, safe bridges” to imagine walking over.

All quotations and italicized text in this post were taken from The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.


  1. Anticipation is a wonderful part of imagination. Glad to hear you're in a good writing group.

    1. Thanks, Becky! You're right, anticipation and imagination go hand-in-hand.

      I still have a spot in my heart for TFW, of course :)

      Love your blog - you write faster than I can read, so I'm still back in your early October posts!