Rejection and Redemption


Southern My Way Cookbook
 The prize is a cookbook.  Not the MegaMillions jackpot.  And, certainly not a contract for a book.  I won a cookbook.  Truthfully?  I'm grinning like I just matched four numbers and the MegaBall on my last lottery ticket.

Last month I was reading a new-to-me online magazine called Deep South and noticed an article about a new cookbook called Southern My Way by Gena Knox.  There was a request for readers to share their own family food traditions by leaving a comment or sending an email, and they said they'd pick a winner in January.

It was one of those really cold December days, and I had just stirred up a pot of Brunswick Stew.  Faithful readers know that I have written far more than they wanted to read on the subjects of stew and the Stewart family tradition.  Still, there might be one or two or a million folks who have never heard my ramblings.  Thus inspired, I wrote a few lines in the comments section and returned to whatever I had been doing before that.

Firing up my laptop this morning after several days away, I noticed a message in my email inbox with the subject line:  Southern My Way winner!  It was true:  my entry had been selected as the winner in the Southern My Way cookbook giveaway.  I was so excited when I followed the link and saw my entry published online.

To some, it's a cookbook.  And, truth-be-told, the entry could be compared to writing a letter to the editor of the local paper.  To me, it feels like redemption, a quarter of a century in the making.

About 25 years ago, when Missy M was in the first grade, I took a detour from the corporate roadmap and charted a course into a scary new territory: Full-time Mommyhood.  I had no role model for this, as my own mother had always been employed while we were growing up. 

Of course, I couldn't remove myself completely.   I saw this as a perfect time to make the transition from talking about becoming a writer...to being a writer. That admission should come as no surprise to anyone.

You know me...I had to have a plan.  Doing my research, I read that many successful writers started with magazines.  OK, if it was good for Louisa May Alcott, it should be good for me.  I can do that.  I picked several magazines we had in the house, read them all cover-to-cover to see what they liked, and wrote some articles that I then submitted as directed. 

I received only one response, which was probably the nicest rejection letter that editor had written in a while.  At the time, I remember thinking that I should be pleased that she had taken the time to write me a few words of encouragement.  I should see this as just the first step.  And, I tried to focus on the positive, I really did.

But.

In my heart, I could only feel the disappointment of rejection.  And, as hard as I tried, I could not get past it.  R-E-J-E-C-T-I-O-N.  I was not prepared for how hard it was to have someone else judge something I had done and find it sorely lacking.  It felt like failure, and I didn't know how to deal with it.  I was used to getting A's, not F's.  So, I protected myself from dealing with those awful feelings.  If you don't submit anything, you cannot be rejected.  Simple.  I put that dream in a drawer and moved on to other things.

I never really stopped writing.  As a corporate trainer and leadership development coach, I've written training workbooks and manuals for years.  Since I usually knew (a little) more about the subject I was training, trainees rarely commented negatively on their materials...so, no real rejection of my writing there.

I've kept a journal for over 10 years now, where I write until my hand can no longer hold the pen to the paper...a time period that has gotten substantially shorter as the years have gone on.  Since no one else reads my journal, there is no one to comment negatively on my writing...no rejection there.

And, for the past four years, I've blogged here (and more recently on my other two blogs).  I write what I want, when I want.  No rejection here. 

I've even had positive comments from many of you, dear readers.  Most of the time, I haven't known how to respond to things like "you really should be writing a book."  While agreeing with the statement and appreciating the sentiment, I still find it hard to move outside of my comfort zone where I am insulated against rejection.

But, the cookbook may have changed things.  Seeing my winning entry on Deep South certainly feels redemptive...as in redeeming...as in winning something back.

We shall see.  We shall see.

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