When Compliments Bring Discouragement

I received a response regarding one of my short story submissions yesterday. I’m so accustomed to the response email reading something like, “Thank you for submitting to our ezine. We’re sorry but…” I don’t even brace myself anymore. I just look at the unopened email and announce to my husband, “Another rejection.”

Such was not the case yesterday. Yesterday I got this: “The opening segment was utterly fantastic, and this whole concept is great. It especially resonates because the future is just taken as read in a defeatist tone as we discover this poor guy would rather die than live in this dystopia.”

Yay!

Not so fast.

You know there’s always a “but”, right?

But, “As the story went on, the great narrative curve of the first part got lost for me. We got more and more background about the time and place, but that was rather dry material (once the idea is established). ” And later, “We’d love to publish this piece, but we feel these issues need to be tackled.”

I admit, my mind is often not in the right place when I hear a critique of my work. Rather than the rational, healthy response which would be, “Wow they said the opening part was ‘utterly fantastic’ and they’d ‘love to publish it’. How wonderful that they’ve decided to give me some feedback and a second chance!” My response was something more along the lines of, “Once again, my writing’s not good enough” and “How on earth am I going to incorporate all their feedback into a rewrite? I’ll have to practically rewrite the whole story!”

This morning at church, I felt like a zombie. Discouragement swallowed me up. I wanted to scream “Nothing I do is good enough” over and over, all the while kicking in one of those cheap hollow doors like they do on American Chopper. I. Was. Mad. Not just about my writing, but about everything.

Mad at this dragging economy that feels like a weight around my neck. Mad at my IT job because I learn and learn and learn, and it’s never enough, there’s always something more I need to know, more, more, more. (I’ve lost precious childhood memories because of my job. No joke.) Mad because I work my @!# off day after day at my job, at being a parent, at writing, yet at the end of this month my bank account is going to be in the red.

I seem to have forgotten my blessings today.

Sometimes I think a girl just needs to feel sorry for herself. Just for a moment. Or a couple hours. Sometimes a girl needs to cry in her kitchen because on some levels it’s true. Nothing is good enough for this world. If I let it, it will take, take, take. It doesn’t care if I have an early heart attack or a stroke. This world wants me. All of me.

You may be reading this, thinking, “Um, wow. This girl has some issues. She gets a great compliment and somehow turns it into the sky is falling and the world is out to get her.” To that I’d say, “I have issues. I definitely have issues.

But…”