Today I finally managed to pull off the plunge I had recently committed to taking, hindered only by over-thinking, procrastination and some good old technical problems with my phone. I actually sent off poetry submissions to two online journals and now after the plunge I think I’ve resurfaced with a gnawing feeling that I may regret this – although at least the grawing eats into the numbness a little.
I don’t know what I’m doing and everything about this is new! And I dislike discomfort, it turns out. I’m suddenly aware that anyone reading my poems is likely to think ‘Hmm, classic GCSE English Lit technique there’ when other writers are actually lecturers in creative writing and other worthy and weighty professions.
I’m not a big fan of rejection really – it’s probably my number one fear. I hope that I’m stepping out in faith. And doing hard and uncomfortable things is good for us. So I guess I’ll try holding onto that. I haven’t been rejected yet (it’s likely that no-one has even seen my email) but it’s the possibility of being rejected that is paralysing. With hindsight I can see how this has driven my decisions about jobs to apply for and determined the job roles I’ve ended up in throughout my working life.
I suppose I secretly think my poems might be good enough to publish, but what if they’re not? I mean, I like them but I’m not other people and I’m certainly not editors of poetry journals. I read some poetry and don’t understand it at all and I’m reminded that I’m well and truly out of my depth. I’m hoping that this is one of those moments where I don’t sink through the waves because I’m looking to Jesus, and where I’m no longer terrified because I hear Him call out “Don’t be afraid. The I AM is here” (John 6:20).
I’ve been reliably informed that having one poem accepted for every five rejections is pretty good going so I think I need to brace myself for that. And I’m already making lists of journals that mention that they provide a home for work that hasn’t found a home elsewhere because I’m desperately hoping that that really means ‘We’ll take anything’. But then if they reject me too I will be well and truly rejected!
So I think I’ll have to forget about the acceptance and rejection side of things (as much as possible, and far more easily said than done, having not yet received my inevitable first rejection letter) and remember the unchanging I AM, who put the desire to write inside me in the first place. I’ll have to re-read my post on writing as worship I think. And I need to remind myself that someone else’s acceptance or rejection of something I have created does not a) change its value or b) change my value.
It’s funny how our Father knows exactly what we need and when. This actually just made me laugh (internally so as to avoid waking the littl’un beside me). He reminded me of a line from one of my own spoken word poems – Age of celebrity – to point me back to His truth.
Your value isn't tied up with stocks and shares, likes or swipes don't determine your worth from Age of celebrity - spoken word
So here’s to the One who meets us where we are – fallen, faltering and flawed, but never leaves us as we are.
And here’s to celebrating little wins when we’re feeling flat and when taking a small step could either lead to a fall or it could just be the start of a big adventure.