Since I'm cultivating a freelance writing career, submitting my work for publication is Step One, I thought, to determine if my work is worth reading, letting me know if I could succeed. So, I drafted an essay for an online collection of commentary on trials, tribulations, and triumphs in the Philadelphia area called Metropolis.
To get an idea of the site's style preferences, I read a few essays. They ranged from writers discussing their love life to a play-by-play of trash picking in Society Hill to a woman complaining about the misuse of sidewalks by bicyclers, strollers, and alfresco dining in the city.
Thinking of events that occurred to me in the past month or so, I decided to write about a frustrating experience with the professor I intern for in Upper Darby and describe my attempt to steer clear of bruising his fragile, inflated ego.
Once I finished, I realized writing this piece was a difficult undertaking, much harder than writing blogs, prompts, and short stories. My essay had to follow guidelines if I wanted to get the editor's approval for publication. I also wanted to ensure I addressed the topic professionally, approaching it with sensitivity and maturity, and protecting the identities of the subjects, incase they were to read it.
After completing the essay, I reached out to two trusted, well-read friends for revision and editing purposes, and I tightened the essay and began the submission process. I wasn't sure how to go about it, so I read Metropolis' guidelines and a few articles, and decided to introduce myself and explain why I contacted them. Then, I thanked the editor for his time and consideration, and attached the essay.
All of a sudden my confidence was no where to be found. I nervously stared at the send button thinking they might hate my essay. A few minutes passed while I considered whether I should revise it one more time or if I should just abandon the whole idea. Before I could psych myself out, I quickly hit send.
I crossed my fingers and anxiously checked my email every hour for a few days, until I finally got the response. A sense of relief calmed some of the panic, but remember, I didn't open the email yet. I had to get over myself. I took a deep breath and opened it. My fears became reality. The essay was REJECTED!! I read the response with chest pains and an inability to catch my breath:
Fifth came the reanalysis of the email. Did this "senior editor" have a typo in his email? That left me with little confidence in him or his web site.
Finally, I put all my emotions aside and realized that rejection is a large part of a writer's life. My journey just began, and this will not be the last time my work is discarded. I also realized I was trying to walk, before I crawled. Since changing career paths from an English teacher to a writer, I realized I didn't have a tremendous amount of writing samples. Actually, I didn't have anything, except papers I wrote in college. Step One: Focus on developing and strengthening my style and building my portfolio. Step Two: Repeat Step One. Step Three: Submit work. The only thing left to do now is get back to writing.