“I’m sorry, Mr Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.”
- Rejection letter to Rudyard Kipling, 1889
Although math was never my strong point in school, I did sort of get the hang of ratios, which have their uses. For example, this morning at the gym I couldn’t help but notice the following:
The ratio of Top-40 songs I do like to Top-40 songs I do not like to listen to while toiling at the gym = extremely low : extremely high.
It’s all about balance. Three days a week I subject myself to the picking-up and putting-down of heavy (-ish) objects and huffing and puffing on a stairway-to-nowhere to try to keep my writerly self reasonably fit and to force myself out the door into society, not to listen to the work of musicians whose musical training compared to my musical training = extremely low : extremely high, while their income as a musician compared to my income as a musician = extremely high : extremely low.
Not that I’m complaining, at least about the gym. I like the guys who run the place. We’re equally baffled and amused by each other, and they always turn down the Top-40 radio when I ask. Then they leave me to huff and puff at my leisure.
And speaking of volume, if you didn’t recently hear the glad cries emitting from my writer’s garret, you might want to have your ears checked. There arrived an email informing me that one of the manuscripts I recently sent off has been selected for the second round of review. With thudding heart I wondered: What does this mean? Am I on the short list? The long list? Heck, I’m just happy to be on the mailing list! I confess to sending a few modest emails around to close friends to pass along the news so they might be able to congratulate me on my non-rejection, as I like to call it. Which about half of them did, with great cheer and tolerance (1:1).
Which brings me back to ratios. Acceptance letters to rejection letters being somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1:2,000,000,000, I’ll take what I can get in the way of encouragement, even if it’s an ambiguous non-rejection. It’s not often a writer receives mail beginning with “We are pleased to inform you…”
Never mind that over the next couple of days I received responses to four short story submissions, all rejections.
As I said earlier, it’s all about balance. I remind myself that as long as there is a ratio to maintain (1:2000,000,000) (not unlike the Top-40 songs I like : dislike), the rejection letters will keep coming. And so I climb back into my garret and keep writing.