Hidden away in a large plastic bin are years of my writing; poems, plays, short stories, articles, essays… even a finished book-length manuscript. Why are they stored in a bin and buried in my bedroom?
Because I am terrified of rejection.
I used to send my work out, but after twenty-five rejection letters I quit. I couldn’t take the disappointment and depression any more. Every rejection felt like a rejection of me, not my writing. I was the loser who poured her soul into every word only to have all that work stomped on by a heartless editor. My writing was worthless, therefore I was worthless.
My ego became intertwined with my writing. How can it not? Writing comes from the heart; it makes you vulnerable. You have to open a vein into your inner core and let the creativity pour out. No wonder every rejection letter felt like a rejection of my soul. I was just another girl who thought she could write like the millions of others who think they can write. I’m not special. I don’t matter and neither does my writing.
Vulnerability turned to depression and depression became fear. Never wanting to feel that much misery again, I put my writing in a plastic bin and shoved it behind my bed.
The other day, someone asked me what I was giving up for Lent. Not being a Christian, I just shrugged and said, “candy.” But what actually is Lent? And why should you give something up to celebrate?
According to The Upper Room, Lent is the season of the Christian year when Christians focus on simple living, fasting and prayer to grow closer to God. For 40 days, the length of time Jesus wandered in the desert alone, Christians let go of material things and focus on their spirit. For this ritual to work you have to give up something you really love, or are really attached to.
I am absolutely attached to fear. Perhaps this is a blasphemous way of observing a holy tradition, but as I said, I’m not Christian. However, I do believe ritual and symbols are important and that reconnecting to our sense of spirit is vital. Making a commitment to something greater than ourselves makes us better humans. Some people find that in religion. I find it in creativity.
For the next forty days I will submit my writing. Every day, I will send one piece of my work out into the world and will not think about whether or not it is accepted. Acceptance isn’t the goal, getting over fear is. And I will do this in the spirit of Lent. I am letting go of ego and sharing my work with anyone who may find it beneficial. I am strengthening my creativity and weakening the inner critic who tells me I’m worthless. And if I get 40 rejections, so be it. I’ll decoupage them and make a gorgeous collage.
3 thoughts on “I’m giving up fear for Lent”
Janemac Editing tweeted about your post, so I clicked the link. My reaction: I don’t even know you, but I’m honestly proud of you for giving up fear. And if fear tries to creep back in, go ahead and hit that send button anyway!
Terena, I’ve been meaning to respond since I read your post the night you published it. First, I was so very touched by your explanation of rejection. I’ve only gotten my first recently, however, I felt many of the same things that you did. Second, I want to congratulate you on your approach to rejection. You are an inspiration, going at this daily regardless of the outcome. Lent urges us not only to let go of something but to grasp, especially for a better relationship with God and better understanding of him, the source of Creation / Creativity. You are grasping. I don’t know you but like another commenter, and very proud of you. Thank you for letting us into your world and heart and showing us that we all creative types face negativity at times, but we can reach up and find something put in us to move forward in the pounding rain. Please let us know how this turns out for you. I feel confident that your efforts will result in yeses! ~ Toni