In yesterday's mail was my one hundredth rejection slip. Like the other ninety-nine, I entered it into my database, placed it in alphabetical order in the increasingly bulging hanging file, and scribbled an N next to its entry on my latest printout.
Unlike the other ninety-nine form letters beginning with "Dear Ms. Schrier" and continuing with "does not fit our marketing plan for the future," this one was accompanied by a handwritten note saying that my writing was dreadful. That exact word wasn't used, but the essence was clear.
On light blue, white-lined stationery, the note said that there were problems of consistency, topicality, phraseology, readability and relatibility. I didn't think relatibility was even a word. I was being informed that my book, my more than four-year endeavor, was boring and trite. There were verb-tense errors, grammatical errors and a multitude of typos. I could only conclude that writing it had been a phenomenal waste of my time.
Four years out of my life. I took a deep breath, dried the tears that had welled up yet once more, pulled out the note and read it again, more slowly this time. More critically. More dispassionately. Or so I thought.
Four years working days and begging for overtime to make ends meet, writing before dawn and late into the evening, and every Saturday and Sunday, of course. I attended workshops and took creative writing courses. I spent my yearly two-week vacations at writing retreats. I lost my husband and then my boyfriend, who ran away from me shrieking how goddam focused I was. Both called me a compulsive, narcissistic bitch. At least the dog couldn't talk. But he certainly could whine when I forgot to feed him or walk him. Now I am alone.
I also ruined the few friendships I had remaining, by pleading with them to "C'mon ... please read my book and tell me what you think." "Oh, you don't have time? Then how about just one chapter. Or just a couple of pages, maybe?"
Throughout all of this, I continually got glowing comments and reviews. Everyone was saying things like: "Didja ever think of sending it in? "It's great, just great!" "Man, I couldn't put it down." "I was on the edge of my seat!" "You're some writer. You should get it published." Published. Hmm.
Worst of all, I scrimped on life's pleasures to hire a self-proclaimed "book doctor." He swore that my book was "unique" ... "a treasure" ... "a real find." He claimed that he wouldn't have taken me on as a client if he didn't think I was the next up-and-coming. After the first and second passes I made umpteen revisions before sending back the manuscript for more scrutiny. He vowed that he was going though it with a fine-tooth comb to get it ready for submission. And, of course, he charged me dearly - fifty percent more than the going rate on the internet.
My one hundredth rejection slip. To all of you, who betrayed me with your false words of encouragement and praise - you know who you are! - I will bare my teeth and utter words of scorn and contempt. But you, you doctor of nothing: It is you who will incur my wrath. It is you who will suffer my enmity. It is you with whom I am going to settle the score.
And you might ask, "How, pray tell?"
I am going to write an exposé, full of details, lurid and damning. I will make your life miserable. I will sell my story about you and me to the tabloids. I will tell anyone who will listen about the horrid, vicious things you did to me, and will include things you could never have imagined doing. I will appear on radio and television talk shows. I will be the quintessential guest. Audiences will shed tears while everyone shuns you for being the pariah you are.
Then you will find what it means to be ruined. To stand naked before others. To wish you had never lived. And you will know the agony I have become.
My heart is pounding in my chest. I'm palpitating, panting, perspiring. Too many P's you say? Yet I feel cleansed, somehow elated. I need fresh cold air to clear my head. I open the front door.
The postman is striding up the walk. There's a non-committal look on his face and a large brown envelope in his hand.
Appeared in Grassroot Reflections Number 52, November 2019
Rev 2 / February 15, 2010
February, 2010 Copyright © 2010, Lloyd B. Abrams