I’m hopped up on a combination of cold and flu tablets and the first full night’s sleep I’ve had in about five years, courtesy of the CPAP machine, so you’ll have to forgive me if I’m feeling a little punchy today.
There’s this “How to Survive a Relationship With a Writer” meme going around on Facebook at the moment – hopefully the link above will take you too it, but Facebook is always hit and miss on such things. Said meme is full of 10 points designed to make living with your writers SO easier and, like most such memes, is basically played for laughs.
But it’s appeared in my feed three or four times now, and every time I lose my shit when I hit point ten:
10. Leave your writers a lone when a rejection letter arrives. After the deadly silence, screaming, crying, moaning, and muttering have subsided, offer your writer a cup of coffee or tea. And a cupcake. And a hug.
People, we need to stop doing this. Rejection letters are not the enemy. They are not something that should be sending you into a screaming, crying, moaning, rage. They are not something where your significant other should be coddling you and trying to make you feel better about the world.
We may be playing this list for laughs, but at the core of the humour there is truth, and the truth of this one is that writers get a pass on all sorts of bad behaviour because we fetishize writing as a form of “genius” in the traditional sense – someone in the possession of a guiding spirit/god/muse who forces them to create. It comes from the assumption that every goddamnn thing that gets put on the page is like some kind of pristine, all-important work pooped into your brain by a muse so that it can be worshipped and validated.
Say it with me folks: Fuck. That. Shit.
Editors do not reject works of genius. They reject stories. Sometimes they reject the story ’cause it’s bad. Sometimes they reject a perfectly good story because it’s not right for their magazine. Sometimes they reject a great story because they’re having a bad day, or ’cause you’ve used a parenthetical aside in your opening paragraph that shit that makes them crazy.
Rejection, in and of itself, is not a bad thing and shouldn’t require special consideration from your partner. It’s part of the damn job of being a writer. Here’s my suggestion: when your writer gets a rejection letter and starts moaning or muttering or making out its the end of the world, try dating an adult instead.