On Writing & Rejection

Everyday

In 2016, I wrote a children’s book. Yes, it took me a year to write two Microsoft Word pages of rhyming children’s literature. What can I say? Writing is HARD.

Recently, I was encouraged to try to get it published. While I’ve published several industry articles and some poetry, I have never completed a manuscript and shopped it around. This was new territory for me. I painstakingly researched tips for writing query letters, made a color-coded Excel spreadsheet of literary agents who were most likely to consider my book, obsessed over the first draft of my query letter, and, finally, sent my baby out into the great unknown, possibly never to be heard from again. In fact, very probably.

You see, literary agents no longer send rejection letters. The ease of online submission means more people can send just about anything and literary agents end up with thousands of entries they have to dig through looking for something worthy enough to represent. There is simply no time for rejection emails. Instead, they post a time frame on their website and if you don’t hear back within that window, they aren’t interested.

Harsh? I don’t think so. There simply isn’t enough time to write every desperate author a rejection letter. And there could be so many reasons for rejecting a manuscript. Perhaps it sucks. Or it doesn’t have a market. Or it’s been done before. Or that agent already is representing three other young adult fantasy authors. (Note: I am not writing young adult fantasy.) At the end of the day, the agent just might not like it…

All that being said, this week marked the end of the time window for three of the literary agents I submitted to. It’s official. I’ve been rejected. Or rather, my work has been. Part of me thinks this is a great experience to have. Every writer should experience rejection. It’s part of the whole struggling-writer persona, right? I wouldn’t want this to be too easy – it could mess up my street cred.

But part of me is sad. And a bigger part of me wants to know why. Why was I rejected? Is the subject matter too niché? Is rhyming passé? Was the writing bad? Did they read the manuscript or did they stop at my query letter and move on?

The bad news is that I will never know. The good news is that I will never know and I can move on. And keep on trying.

Dear Sister

Poetry

Dear Sister,
This is about a girl who just caught her bus.
She is one of us.
She wants to be everything at once.
But mostly feels like nothing at all.

She wants to be tall.
She wants to be taken seriously,
But is usually taken for granted,
And now is being taken to the corner
of Grant and Avenue D.
She is part of you and me.
Her hair is a mess
And she’s wearing a dress
That hasn’t been washed in a while.
She cracks a small smile.
At the boy in the front
Who just shot a glance her way.
But he’s not looking at her.
Instead he looks at the seat
Next to hers where he meets
the eyes of a girl
Whose dress is clean.
He wasn’t being mean.
But she felt in his eyes
a life’s worth of lies
She’d been telling herself in her dreams.
The lies that crept in her head
When she laid in her bed
Wishing the sun not to rise.
Clenching her eyes.
The lies that said she wasn’t good enough.
Not smart enough. Not pretty enough.
Not tough enough.
Her heart was rough.
The soft tissues that grew
Were now black and blue
From the beatings she gave to herself.
She put her dreams on a shelf.
Since she’d never achieve them
She’d much rather leave them
Far out of reach.
If she only knew
That the lies were not true.
But they tore through her like bleach.
Fading away, a bit everyday,
her marvelous, colorful hue.
This girl is me and you.
Constantly bombarded
And hopelessly guarded
from a world that demands nothing less
Than perfection and grace
Power wrapped in lace
A maiden who’s not in distress.
Because heaven forbid we feel stressed
And wear a dress
with hair that hasn’t been washed in a while.
Heaven forbid that we smile.
If the world only knew
All the things we could do
If left to achieve our own dreams
But the world isn’t as cruel as it seems
If we stand hand in hand,
Change from ask to demand,
We can finally go the extra mile.
We can learn to truly smile.

My dear, dear sister
we all have grown blisters
from where the world has rubbed us
against the grain of our souls.
So let’s make some new goals.
Be messy.
Be graceful.
Be crazy.
Be tasteful.
Be your own kind of strong.
Together, we’ll right the wrong
And tomorrow’s sisters can live the lives we wished for all along.

This poem is carb-free.

Everyday, Poetry

No carbs. No sugar. No bread. No cheese.
Hold the salad dressing, please.
No cake. No fruit. Sugar-free gum,
I can’t eat that, it’s after one.
No thank you, I brought my own,
I only eat what I’ve homegrown.
Want to split dessert with me?
I only drink unsweetened tea.
Jenny, Watchers, Thirty Whole.
Another diet, one more goal.
Stripping out the extra snacks,
Only hundred calorie packs.
Skipping yet another meal,
It doesn’t matter how I feel.
Missing out on lunch with friends,
Dieting that never ends.
Counting inches one by one,
Never happy, never done.
Avoiding aisles at the store,
Pacing ‘cross kitchen the floor.
Always checking on the scale,
Feeling hungry, looking frail.
Breathing out and sucking in.
Barely living, but I’m thin.


Some of you know that I had an eating disorder in college. Others know that I still struggle with an unhealthy relationship with food today. Now you know both. Everyday I have to remind myself that I am not what I eat, what I weigh, or what I wear. I have to choose every day to see myself as Christ sees me: as a “beautifully and wonderfully made” child of God. But the struggle is real, y’all. And that is why my heart aches for my fellow humans who are bound by food, enslaved by society’s warped beauty standards, and battling against poor self image. So many women and men make their appearance the biggest priority in their lives, when in reality, our bodies will inevitably fail us. That’s a fact. I hope this post serves as a reminder that food is not everything, weight is just a number, diets shouldn’t control you, and your life is worth far more than food restrictions. And you are, too.

Doubt.

Poetry

Do.
Do it.
It will, so do it.
It will work, so do it.
It might not work, so maybe do it.
It will not, so don’t do it.
Don’t do it.
Don’t do.
Don’t.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Poetry

Success isn’t counted up in dollars,
or measured out by your acclaim,
It doesn’t depend on colored collars,
or how many people know your name.

It isn’t marked by job or title,
Whether on a card or plaque,
It’s not position that is vital,
It isn’t based on skill or knack.

Success is knowing you’ve done something,
Tacked it down and signed your name,
It’s never losing faith or doubting,
even when you’ve lost the game.

It’s believing that you’re worth it,
When everybody says you’re not,
It’s trying even when you’ve failed it,
And always giving one last shot.

It’s persevering in times of trouble,
Even though you know you’ll fall,
It’s working hard and doing double,
When you haven’t got the strength at all.

Success isn’t based on fame or glory,
It’s built by living well each day,
It’s being brave enough to live your story,
With all your will, in every way.

I Write A Lot

Poetry

I write a lot of poetry,

That nobody will ever see,

Because a little part of me,

Is afraid they’ll say it sucks.

Then what does that make me?

Poetry

I may not think the way you do,

Or share a similar world view,

I suck at basic social cues,

But I’m a person, too.

 

I may not laugh out loud at jokes,

Or be a fan of cooked egg yolks,

I am obsessed with Diet Cokes,

But I’m a person, too.

 

I may not always sing on key,

Or like to go on shopping sprees,

I might be terrified of bees,

But I’m a person, too.

 

I may not always keep my cool,

Or say I’ve ever “hated” school,

And every time I sleep, I drool,

But I’m a person, too.

 

I may not have the perfect smile,

Or have the most impressive style,

I would not walk 500 miles,

But I’m a person, too.

 

I may not be the type to cry,

Or one to look you in the eyes,

Emotions tend to make me shy,

But I’m a person, too.

 

I may over-think a lot,

And question everything I’ve got,

But whether you like it or not,

I’m still a person, too.

 

Are you?

Home (A Simple Poem)

Poetry

Home isn’t where you lay your head,
Or where you keep your clothes,
It isn’t where you make your bed,
Or where you blow your nose.

Home isn’t where you brush your teeth,
Or where you sit to eat,
It isn’t even where you sleep,
Or where you rest your feet.

Home isn’t where you first were born,
Or where you went to school,
It isn’t where your jeans were torn,
When kids thought you weren’t cool.

Home isn’t hidden underground,
Or in a building nice and tall,
It may not be in just one place,
Or in a place at all.

Home may not be where it once was,
Or where you thought it’d be,
It may be far from those you love,
By more than one degree.

Home may not be here nor there,
But it isn’t very far,
Home is having friends who care,
And love you for who you are.

So whether you live down the street,
Or far across the sea,
Home is knowing you are loved,
And that’s all it needs to be.

A Poem from My Past

Poetry

The following is a poem I wrote a little over a year ago on September 1, 2011. I very rarely post any of my poetry, partly because I fear people judging my work; mostly because I write them for me and I don’t think they really hold much meaning to people outside of my inner world. Every so often I go through my files and read my old writings, either to laugh at myself or to remember how I felt at the time. Sometimes, I feel as though my past self wrote them so that my future self would find one at just the right moment. This one stood out to me:

Drowning

My heart is slowly breaking as I stand upon the shore,
These mistakes that you are making, I can’t take them anymore,
You say that you are seeking a new life that is your own,
But the life that you are living made you someone I don’t know.

I watch you float before me, holding on with all your might,
As the pillars that you cling to drag you slowing from the light,
You say that you are happy as you hold on to your strife,
But the waves are getting higher and they dare to take your life.

Your strength, at once admired, it has weakened, fading fast,
You are sinking, you are hopeless, and I fear you’ll breath your last,
The waves are fierce and mighty as they drag you out to sea,
The shoreline forms my chapel and I pray God will hear my plea:

I pray that you are happy, you are faithful, you are warm,
I pray that God protect you as you try to fare this storm,
I pray you find what you are seeking and you save what you have lost,
But I also pray the journey is worth far more than the cost.

As I kneel down in my chapel, a ray of light breaks through the gloom,
It fights its way through darkness and offers safety from this doom,
But distance grows between us, you get farther day by day,
And, hopelessly, I watch you as you slowly float away.

Hair in your mouth.

Everyday, Ponderings

This weekend, I went to the Deep Ellum Arts Festival this weekend – as I do every year. Walking down the street passed art booths and food stands, I was taken aback by a building on the street. There were no markings on it and the only reason that I knew that there was something going on behind its doors was the red carpet that lined the sidewalk and two long-haired men dressed in coattails and carrying elegant walking sticks who guarded the door and a sign that read “By invitation only”. So what do I do? I google it of course. I discovered that the venue is called Quixotica and is a “magikal” event space whose goal is “to entertain, give good feeling of positive energy and a sense of childlike mischievous adventure”. Thrilled by this most interesting find, I delved deeper into the magikal realm that was their website and discovered my newest passion – to be a hair poet. The good people at Quixotic provide a definition of this most elegant craft as follows:

Hair Poet (noun)

A man or woman who expresses his poetry through his hair, as well as on paper. A hair poet will have poetic hair. He may communicate with others through his hair. He cuts, sculpts his own hair. His hair may portray his joy, his sadness, possibly his confusion. A hair poet is most of all, quite a character. (also not in the dictionary)

Despite the clarity with which they so eloquently wrote this description, I am still at a loss as to what exactly a hair poet is. Is poetry about hair really so popular. Let the search begin!