Yesterday will go down in the history of my life as the first time I received an ACCEPTANCE letter. Critical rejections, I’ve had. Personal, encouraging rejections, I’d come to kind of enjoy. But an acceptance was new and thrilling.
Except that it was also kind of scary.
I found myself immediately starting to doubt. If this magazine actually accepted me, it must not be a good one. Or don’t get too excited, lots of writers better than you are getting accepted left and right all the time. It’s funny how I have been putting such an optimistic spin on rejection, but hand me the first acceptance and suddenly I can’t see the good in it.
I turned to a handful of other creators–a professional writer I’m acquainted with, the art teacher at my school, the playwright teaching my creative writing class–in an attempt to pacify my spinning mind. They all told me essentially the same thing: This is an opportunity to let go of old work and make room for the new. Because the bottom line is that it’s all about the work.
A similar illuminating moment came this summer when someone suggested that I quit worrying about the outcomes and focus on the process instead. She was referring to teaching at the time, but I have turned those words over and over in my head when it comes to teaching, writing, marriage, motherhood, friendship, and the list goes on. I find that it soothes just about any anxiety I have in most aspects of my life because as cliche as it may be, life truly is a journey, not a destination.
So I woke up today with the plan to celebrate my acceptance. I told a couple of people at work about it, even though I usually try to keep my writing life and my teaching life separate. I replied to the acceptance email with gratitude and wrote the “third person bio” to include with my piece (a truly strange experience). And I made a (gluten-free) chocolate cake after dinner tonight and stood in the kitchen with my husband eating it with my hands.
A small celebration for a small–but really important–moment in my writing life.