Something More

I am a fragile flower, a delicate spidery web, a candle flame barely burning. One little puff and out I go. Touch me with two fingers and I crumble. Leave me in the sun without adequate moisture and I shrivel. Or, easier still, send me a form letter rejecting my painstakingly written query letter and I will crawl under my desk, push aside the outlet strip and refuse to come out and write another sentence fragment (at least until it’s time to cook dinner.)

I say to myself, “Self, why must you insist on something more? Isn’t it enough to raise four children, two of them adopted through a process so arduous you cried on the bathroom floor more than once and questioned the very existence of the Almighty God, and two of them the most exquisite babies conceived against impossible odds and born into dimly lit bedrooms with midwives in attendance? Are these miracles not enough? Is your husband of twenty years, that hard-working, calm, funny man who laughs at your jokes and didn’t divorce you when you gained 75 pounds not enough?”

“Self,” I say, “You have a spacious house (nevermind the clutter and dust), a safe neighborhood, shelves full of good books to read, new highlights in your hair and hot pink sneakers . . . and yet, it is not enough? You grappled with your faith as a teenager, wrestled with God through college, had a fist-fight with Him in your twenties, decided to trust in Him even when He tried your patience . . . you believe, you trust, you feel the comfort of God’s presence in your life and receive the occasional touch of grace to remind you of His care and it’s not enough? Is all this not enough?”

I’m a giant castle built with blocks and when one teeters, they all crash to the ground. The teetering block, that thing I thought I’d discarded years ago in a fit of despair, it keeps reappearing, insisting I pick it up, incorporate it into the construction of my life. I never asked to be a writer. I never studied writing, never majored in writing, never dared to call msyelf an author . . . but I write. I can’t help myself. I cannot be silent. The words march in my head, keeping their own beat, pounding pounding pounding until I line them up in sentences and make them behave like paragraphs. Then, sometimes, for a moment, everything is still and ordered and quiet and I am satisfied that I have expressed something just as it appeared to me. I have written and I am at peace.

I wish I had an obsession with handbags or designer shoes or something that did not come attached to the occasional rejection letter. A hunger for leather could be appeased. But this desire for publication is mean. I come apart like a seam only basted, not stitched. Today, today I am coming apart, unraveling, verging on tears, prowling in the kitchen for something to feed the gaping hole that food cannot fill. Today is a bad day, a day when I think that something might be wrong with me. I want to write, to describe the world from my viewpoint. I want to be read, too, to know that someone catches the ball I’m throwing into the universe.

Yet, I fear that I am completely delusional. I recoil from the business aspect of writing, the pushing and shoving your way to the front of the line, the impossible locks you cannot undo without the secret combination. (For instance, in the form rejection letter I received today, the editor gave me a list of ten possible reasons my query was rejected. Ten. This is maddening.) I’m not a member of the secret club, but if I could get in the door, I know I am capable of writing what they are buying.

Or I’m completely insane. You decide.

I quit. I think I will devote myself to creating the perfect muffin recipe (moist, yet nutritious), getting the laundry even brighter and whiter and organizing my sock drawer. I will purge the storage room of excess stuff, paint frames black and hang up photographs, degrime the corners of the floor. I will repaint the family room (away with you, red stripes!), alphabetize the spices and sneak stuffed animals out of the my daughter’s room undetected.

Yes, it will be a very satisfying life, one free of rejection form letters and editors who overlook me in their search for the Next Best Thing. You win, Universe. I get the message. I quit.

I hope you’re happy.

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Something More

36 thoughts on “Something More

  1. Next Best Thing always becomes Yesterday’s News. Think of the discount book table at Barnes or Noble, or even worse…sidewalk sale fodder. Big red stickerville.

    Maybe I’m crazy, but I wouldn’t mind being on that table. Sometimes.

    Digital cameras have made everyone a photographer. Blogging has made everyone a writer. You, however, stand out. It is obvious and I have every confidence that one day you will be in the secret club. Put in a good word for me with the Grand Wizard or the equivalent when you get there.

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  2. Karen says:

    Mel: I agree with Mopsy. Everybody can blog, but you can really write! Keep plugging away. Wasn’t it Hemingway that had all those books rejected for years before one was accepted for publication? And Einstein had a hard time in highschool or something? Keep writing and trying. Really. REALLY.

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  3. Oh my blessed word, Mel!!! You have written my heart! I have had only small articles and individual stories published for that very reason. I cant stand the rejection. I too wonder why Im not happy with all the blessings God has bestowed on me. Why must I push to the very ragged frazzled edges of my sanity to be published?

    I have no words or answers Mel. I am drinking from the same cup you are. *sniff sniff*

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  4. Can I be a member of your club, because who needs that secret club? They will regret rejecting you someday. I feel privileged to be one of your readers. And if only I could have written something as eloquent as Mopsy up there… you both are my heroes.

    xoxo
    Steph

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  5. Your writing is lovely – someday it’ll be right for some publisher. Even if they don’t appreciate you yet, we love being blessed by your writing on an almost daily basis.

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  6. But you ARE writing. I read your stuff every single day – and love it. You ARE writing and you are a writer! Stop praying for this thing – God knows what you want. Just keep doing the work – even through the rejections. If God wants more for you – you will achieve it! Maybe it is not your time – YET. “There is a place and time for evereything”. Just continue to be patient – and keep working. Some people just have to work harder (for whatever reason) than others for the things they want. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen or that you are not a good writer – it just means it is not yet the time or place – not yet.

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  7. Brianne says:

    So many people could say “I quit” and have it be a completely undisguised request for an ego stroke. You, however, are not like that. Please don’t let stupid form letters deprive the world of your efforts. Please continue writing, please continue to send off samples off to publishers, please do not ignore any muse which chooses to stop by your living room. Phooey to form letters!

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  8. bici says:

    “Turns out there is no prize for alphabetizing your spices…” (a magnet on my fridge) but there ARE prizes for writing, m’dear. So you keep plugging away for that prize – keep your eyes on the prize, as someone famous said. You strive because Man strives, our God made us that way. And because you set an example to your kids, who see that there is a whole lot more to life than sugary cereals, TV game shows, Xbox games, and fast cars. There will be more rejection letters, of course, but there will be acceptance letters too. “Someday” will be here sooner than you think. Just don’t go cutting off your ear like Van Gogh! πŸ™‚

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  9. Lisa Burns says:

    No, Mel. You must never, never, never, quit. I believe in you…always have. While others may read this and feel I’m in jest, I assure you that I am not. Even in it’s simplest forms, for as long as I’ve known you, your ability to exspress yourself has had an edge. Those dreams of the great american novel are not in vain. In college you astounded me with your papers and sermons. Let’s not forget, your great lyrical content…(please, just go away. i don’t want you to stay…):) Even then you had a way with words that I envied. As we embarked upon our newlywed years I couldn’t wait for the next letter. I knew that when it arrived I would be transported to where you were…that’s how good you were. And can I say, your Christmas newsletter is the highlight of my card receiving season to this day! Even in the bits of communication most of us share in life…you have never been mundane. Your blogs are amazing to experience. Your ability to write with wit and eloquence nevers ceases to delight my brain. It is always worth the wait. No, Mel. You must never, never, never, quit.

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  10. Don’t quit.

    You have something to say.

    And you say it well.

    I believe your stats prove that.

    That ONE person at ONE publishing company doesn’t see it yet, well, that hardly merits your quiting.

    And, being non-violent and all, I would hate to have to travel to the west coast just to smack you ‘up-side the head’.

    I love you and your fabulous writing.

    (Having ones spices organized is truly over-rated. If you’re going to organize them, use Braille, as the eyes really start to go in one’s late forties.)

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  11. Mel, don’t you dare quit!!! You are an awesomely talented writer. You are an inspiration. MY inspiration!! And you WILL be published!!! Don’t give up. Never Surrender!!

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  12. Rachel says:

    Don’t quit!! I love your blog and adore your writing. I check your blog every day and am soooo disappointed when there is nothing new. (no pressure…..) [:-)
    Please don’t give up!!
    Rachel in Idaho

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  13. Marianne says:

    I think you are a wonderful writer. I always wished I could write, but I can’t. I can sing, though. I have had my own trials and tribulations with that. And I know that God knows my heart and that He knows I want to use my gift, even more than now. He knows your heart too. Keep it up, keep going, don’t give up on this awesome dream.

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  14. Though I am not a writer (I think about it sometimes but know that I am not because I don’t have those words drumming through my mind until I write them as true writers do), I see myself in your objection to the business end of things. I too abhore the secret combinations and the pushing myself to the front. I cannot for the life of me sell myself which is one of the reasons I’m not a famous scrapbook artist!

    Don’t quit. We enjoy reading you here and look forward to someday reading you at the bookstore too.

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  15. I think you need to sit down, have a good cry, take a deep breath, and let it go. Focus for a while on what you REALLY love to write and let the other stuff slide. Even good land needs to have a season of rest to build itself up again. Sometimes we just stretch ourselves too thin and then nothing turns out right.

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  16. Laura says:

    I’m only a lurker, but wanted to encourage you – you write wonderfully! You have a following (including people you don’t even know!) that comes back again and again because of your poignant and honest, well written observations. Keep writing! You’ll get your shot someday.

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  17. Sometimes the best thing I ever did was quit.

    I quit trying so hard in my own strength–and I learned to do *only* what God gave me strength to do. I quit trying to take things and force things–and I learned how to receive things, instead. I quit trying to fulfill myself–and I learned how to let God fulfill me… to be enough in every situation–for only He *is* enough. I quit trying to ‘do witnessing’–and I just started being a witness in everyday ways. I quit trying to force my gifts upon others–and I let God use my gifts through me, to speak through me, trusting Him to provide those opportunites.

    Only when I quit, did I find peace. Only when I quit trying so hard was God able to work through me. And that has made all the difference.

    Blessings to you, Mel, as you find your way… Debra

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  18. Only you know what is best for you and your sanity.

    But, even though I am the last person who should be saying this, a form letter of rejection is not a rejection of YOU, no matter how much it may feel like it. It is so hard to separate our writing from ourselves, isn’t it?

    But even though the writing is an extension of you, there is more to you than that. And you know this, we all do.

    If you need to take a temporary break from the seemingly constant rejection, then do so.

    But try to never let it affect your sense of self or self-worth, becuase you are fabulous, regardless of being published. I mean, look, you have a blog you are compensated for, if THAT doesn’t make you a writer, I dont’ know what does.

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  19. You can’t quit, because it is in your blood. You have this forum to satisfy that urge a bit, but I understand the need for more. You are an amazing writer. Your feelings are valid, and I’m glad you’re writing them down. I wish you well!

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  20. Awww we all have those “rejected” days, but we keep fighting our way to the front or we would quit everything that comes in our paths. Don’t give up. You probably just need a big hug or a nice size piece of dark chocolate.
    This blog is proof enough that we all keep coming back and its because we love to see what you’ve written that very day. It means something to a lot of us. If its nothing to you it is a WHOLE lot of something to someone.

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  21. Don’t quit! Please don’t quit! You’re writing is FABULOUS, and heartfelt and touching. I especially enjoyed this particular section, “I write. I can’t help myself. I cannot be silent. The words march in my head, keeping their own beat, pounding pounding pounding until I line them up in sentences and make them behave like paragraphs.” It is MARVELOUS.
    And some day, the person who sent you that rejection letter is going to get fired for sending you that letter. πŸ™‚
    Keep writing and I’ll keep reading; and when you get into that secret club, leave the door open for the rest of us.

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  22. I know that it’s hard not to take rejection personally even when it’s in the form of an impersonal letter than gives you ten take-your-pick reasons. But, if you blog, you write, and your numbers confirm, therefore, that you write very successfully. Remember the many rejections of JK Rowling and think of how good a book Harry Potter would be, even if no publisher had picked it up.

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  23. Kristin says:

    I had intended to give you a whole list of women writers who did not publish their first book until after the age of 40, but my internet search was not helping me, and I gave up on the search. But never mind; I know there are many, many women (and men) writers who have tried and failed again and again before finally getting a publisher to take notice of their work. You, at least, are working at it, unlike many of us who would “like to” be writers but don’t bother to try to get published. So don’t give up! If that editor gave you a list of 10 suggestions, consider them – maybe something might be helpful.

    Also, have you tried getting an agent? I believe you almost have to have one to have a chance of getting published. Check out this very interesting piece by Jennifer Weiner (a favorite writer of mine) about writing and getting published. http://jenniferweiner.com/forwriters.htm

    In my internet searching I did come across this list of contests that could help you get published. http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/12-Funds4Writers.html

    And keep writing!

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  24. The G-Ma says:

    If you have not already read “Stones for Ibarra” by Harriet Doerr, do so. Order it from half.com for a buck plus P&H. Doerr was first published when in her 70s. Her prose is exquisite, spare, so good you want to steal it.

    Like Laura the Lurker above, (I obviously do not eschew alliteration), I dial you up several times a week for my own pleasure. Mel, your life is your art too, as you know. You cannot apprehend what even tomorrow will bring you, so sing about today.

    You are still a young woman. You are only half finished, for gawd’s sake! You think now you can’t wait the necessary future 15 years to have the time and luxury to really write. Nonsense.

    Write every day. Write on scraps of paper. I used to wear an apron with pockets in which to cram the papers, the mechanical pencil. My mind was never far from the exquisite throes of creating with words.

    Don’t you date quit! Harriet will put a hex on you.

    God loves your determination and is prob amused by your irritation. And He celebrates that you utilize His wondrous gift of writing. To quit is to waste that gift. Not nice!

    Blessings on your days.

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  25. Don’t you dare give up! It makes me want to cry just thinking of it. You inspire me every single time I read AUP. Your weight loss blog is part of what finally spurred me to go ahead and lose some weight. You are such a precious, beautiful woman! God has something neat in store for you–don’t forget that. I canNOT imagine why anyone would give you ten “issues” with your writing but they are missing out. Truly. Your writing is good and valuable and you are not insane. Those of us who read your blog love you! You’re in my prayers, don’t let Satan keep you down.

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  26. I feel you, and you said it so beautifully I have nothing to say.

    But,

    I have been reading this nifty new book that’s written by two very well published magazine authors and they cover a lot of things about contacts and query letters. I haven’t tried it yet so I can’t tell you if it works, but you may find it helpful.

    The REnegade Writer by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell

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  27. I suppose it’s a very small thing to say that a stranger in St. Louis has you on her shortcut bar (not bookmark list – shortcut bar!) and eagerly clicks on it every day hoping that you have written something new. I think you have a very gifted way with words, and sometimes you get something so exactly right that it rings like a bell and I hear it all day in my head.

    So there. No paycheck attached to that, and no byline in print, but it is what it is.

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  28. bici says:

    I forgot to mention an organization you will absolutely love to join, and any others here who aspire to write: The International Women’s Writing Guild. It’s a “network for the personal and professional empowerment of women through writing.” It’s at http://www.iwwg.org.

    You don’t have to be a published writer, just a woman who loves/craves writing. There are some wonderful amenities to membership. I urge you to check it out, Mel. πŸ™‚

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  29. Sandy McCann says:

    Mel….

    You are steps ahead of me. You know what your dream is…and you also profess contentment with your “accomplishments” as a wife and mother and a level of satisfaction in potentially “just” continuing in that capacity.

    I find no comfort in the past and I dont know me enough to even dream of something bigger.

    Blessings on whatever you choose. I am sure God has a plan because even through simple blogging you are reaching people in a way that allows them to feel truly connected. That is a work of God in you.

    {{{HUGS}}}

    Sandy

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  30. I’m not a writer but I certainly recognize one when I see one.

    Unlike those publishers.

    I’m late again so I know you haven’t quit but I’m adding my little not of encouragement anyhow.

    I don’t always comment but I always read.

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  31. I’ve been reading you for years and it was evident immediately that you were given the well-written gene at your creation. I’m shocked! I’ve seen two other bloggers say something about getting book deals and in comparison I can only say they MUST be lying.

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  32. I just found you today and am inspired by your faith.. i can see it just by reading your words.. funny its what i needed to see from another today when i struggle with how to let him into my own home. Your words move me, and humor me and make me want to keep coming back for more. I see from what you say that you wont allow your self to quit in the end, you may take a brake but if god intends you to write you will give him what he wants. …. even if.. .even if its never more then just to touch a passer by reader…

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