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Archive for the ‘Writing in Valencia’ Category

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Writing as an affliction

When I was eight, or so, I started having these episodes in which I knew I wasn’t me but I didn’t know who I was and that I felt unreal and that the world felt unreal and it was scary as hell. I asked my mother if it ever happened to her and she said it hadn’t and that was the last we spoke of it. Sometimes I would mention when I had a ‘not me’ episode and then move on. These ‘not me’ things would happen maybe four or five times a week and last a second or two and they were always a bit frightening and disorienting.

As I got older I learned that these experiences were called depersonilization and derealization and once I learned what they were I thought that it meant there was something wrong with me and that it was some kind of little swiss cheese hole in my psyche that if I worked hard enough I could fill up and stop them from happening. A decade of therapy did nothing to reduce the frequency.

Years later and several EEGs later it was determined that I had temporal lobe epilepsy. They aren’t the kind of seizure that inspires one to ask if they should put a pencil under my tongue as I flail about—no, not that kind. I have the kind of seizure that nobody but me notices, simple partial seizures. I tell you all this not to share the boring details of my brain or even to try to explain temporal lobe epilepsy but rather to tell you what the neurologist said when he saw me taking detailed notes in my journal as he explained my diagnosis.

The super cute Chinese neurologist asked if I wrote a lot. Did I keep journals? Was I a list maker? Was I very interested in philosophy and the meaning of life? I was wondering if all these questions were on his list of must have qualities in a partner. I was happy to answer yes to all of his questions. Instead of asking me out Dr. McBrainy explained that those with temporal lobe seizures are prone to hypergraphia and a search for meaning( as the temporal lobe is considered the God spot of the brain).

At first, upon getting the diagnosis I was a little disappointed that Dr. McBrainy hadn’t asked me out and I was relieved to learn that there was something real that was causing my ‘not-me’ moments. It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t psychological. It was real. But, then I started to feel a kind of sadness about having my 95 diaries and my play, poems, and short stories reduced to a brain problem.

It wasn’t and couldn’t be the only why. There had to be others. There was the high school teacher who told me I had a talent and there was the blank pages ability to hear my words and never judge me. There was my love of reading and of words and how books had been there for me when no one else had and how my father had wanted to be a writer and never was and reasons beyond the reach of biology.

Joan Didion, being the brilliant writer she is, has another explanation of the why of writing:

Why did I write it down? In order to remember, of course, but exactly what was it I wanted to remember? How much of it actually happened? Did any of it? Why do I keep a notebook at all? It is easy to deceive oneself on all those scores. The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle. Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.” – Joan Didion, “On Keeping a Notebook,” Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Strangely I prefer being labeled a “lonely and resistant rearranger of things, an anxious malcontent”, and a child “afflicted at birth with some presentiment of loss” better than having my writing explained by a medical condition. The seizures, thanks to Dr. McBrainy, are gone; the writing, or the hypergraphia, remains.

Writing in Valencia: Part Twelve

For years I have said that I don’t write fiction, much like many housekeepers say “I don’t do windows”, and then something happened and I have for the last two weeks been doing what I said I don’t do—only not really as my fiction is really more non-fiction than my non-fiction. That said, I now know why I have been resisting fiction like a root canal.

As you can see from the novel writing word count widget( which I highly recommend), located on the left margin of my blog, that I got from A Cat of Impossible Colour( a lovely blogger who I also highly recommend), I have written 12% of my novel. Just FYI, writing fiction is hard. I thought you might want to know that just in case you ever thought about doing it. Derrick Jensen had it right when he said, “Writing is really very easy. Tap a vein and bleed onto the page. Everything else is just technical.

That is what is what I have been doing. I have been sitting at my laptop five days a week and I have been tapping a vein and bleeding onto my laptop. I am telling the truth 1000 words at a time in a more honest way than I would ever dare to tell in non-fiction. Here is how I do it, and I don’t advise this method of writing for anyone, I sit and think of all the things that think I can’t write and are the most painful and unspeakable bits and I start there and I just write it all out totally unedited and I keep writing until the tears come. I often tell the truth so honestly that I am crying the whole 1000 words and am typing with my eyes closed because the Cover Girl Lash Blast mascara has gotten in my eyes and obscured my vision. And, lucky for me, all this writing has triggered even more material to take to Igor and when I take the material that is triggered by the writing then my work with him gives me more material for the book. It is a circle of pain and progress.

Carolyn See, the author of “Making a Literary Life” wisely suggests that “your thousand words are best when they are not just an outpouring of raw feelings. Sometimes those raw feelings suggest what you really want to be writing about….What if you look for the raw emotion in your own world and then, instead of dissipating it in single-spaced howling, just for the hell of it, write your own story?”

She goes onto recommend as you are writing your story to keep a post-it note near your writing space with the following: Character? Plot? Geography? POV? Time and space? Building a scene? Rewriting? Dialog vs. description? “And without looking at that list until later (maybe five days later, or six months later) you dash off a thousand word, remembering in a vague sort of way, that what you’re writing should have characters, that they have to do something” and that the novel requires the other things on your post-it note list. All these things will need to be decided, but not now. For now, I just have to keep writing.

I have over 10,000 words of total unedited hot mess. When I tried to explain to Igor how bad it is he said “Are you saying that it is so bad that I would have to wash my hands after holding it?” Yes, that is what I am saying. He seems to think that my sense of the book and my frustration with in its current state might have something to do with my mother’s anal retentiveness and how something is not okay unless it comes out perfectly formed and the book is not that. Really, it is the most unorganized document of chaos I have ever credited. I just write a 1000 words—and there is no beginning, middle or end and intellectually I know that is okay. I know that when I am done with my 80,000 words I can go back and organize, shape, rewrite, and edit like mad. It may even take another 80,000 words to tell my story and that is fine. But, let me assure you that as I write the 1000 words I often wonder what the hell I am doing and if I will ever manage to turn this into anything. I hear that voice and then I keep writing.

If you have difficulty allowing yourself to write a bad first draft I highly recommend Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Anne might also have a mother with a complex that Igor might diagnose as she wrote of the importance of “shitty first drafts“. I think of Anne’s wise words when I start to panic that my writing should be less shitty. I imagine that she will be much thought of through all 80,000 words and well into my shitty second draft.

Another important companion in the novel writing process beyond Igor, French roast coffee and Vitamin W is my novel notebook which I keep with me nearly 24 hours a day. I just can’t take a chance that when I am driving, at the market, or getting my nails done that some insight or idea might come and I might miss it.
It even comes into the bathroom with me just in case inspiration should hit when I _ _ _ _( I think Igor maybe onto something with his anal analysis). The only place I don’t take it with me is into the shower and that is only because the pages aren’t waterproof. I am constantly writing in my novel notebook little thoughts, words, phrases or pieces of info that I will want to include in the book. If you saw the notebook it would look to you like the ravings of a loon but I cannot tell you how much my notebook helps me when I have the appearance of a block. If I can’t come up with 1000 words to write I turn to the notebook and look at one of the entries and then I just start writing about that until there is nothing left and then I move onto the next one until I have met my word count quota.

I am off to do another 1000 words. I will need another cup of coffee, some Kleenex, and a strong stomach. Igor has stirred up plenty of raw material that is just waiting to be turned into a shitty first draft.


If you would like evidence that I can inspire great writing, even if I can’t often manage it( at least in the first draft), please click here to meet un lapin blanc. I would love it if you would be so kind as to pop over and welcome my francophile white rabbit friend to the blogosphere with a warm bienvenue.

Totally unrelated to writing but about a writer: Braja friend, a frequent commenter and a dear bloggy has been in a very serious car accident. If you have a deity please pray for her, her husband and the driver who were all seriously injured. If, like me, you are deity free, please think good thoughts for all in
volved. Updates about her condition are posted frequently here. Braja we miss you and hope that you return very soon to the blogosphere.

Writhing in Valencia: Ejected from Eden

It has officially been a year since we left Lake Bluff, Illinois. I thought I was doing okay. I thought I was starting to feel okay about L.A. and more on the hedonic side of things. Well, my psyche conspires against me. Wednesday morning I dreamt of Lake Bluff. There were no words, only images of Lake Bluff in the spring. It was kind of like a slide show. One image after the next all beautiful, green and lovely. I woke and for a second I didn’t remember that we had moved away and that instead of our lovely home off of Sheridan Drive I was now in a one bedroom condo in Valencia. The only thing I can compare the feeling to is a million years ago an idiot guy broke up with me and I was absolutely sick about it. You know that kind of love sick that leaves you convinced nothing will ever be right with the world again. So, I was that kind of sick and I remember the mornings of those days when I would wake up and just for a minute or two I would forget my heart was broken. That is what waking from this dream of Lake Bluff was like. When my memory returned and I realized that we lived in L.A. real tears started to flow.

A few months before we left Lake Bluff I started to have nightmares that we had to move back to L.A. I would wake He-weasel and make him vow that we never had to come back here ever again. See, L.A. is the site of early-life trauma. I have the kind of childhood trauma that gets one a spot on the Oprah show. Coming back here is a constant reminder of that. Also, I am an only child of a narcissistic mother and my mother is here in Southern California and that means I am closer to my mother (in mileage only). Now do you understand the vows, the nightmares, the tears? If not you don’t know what it is like to have a narcissist for a parent you should count your blessings.

I told Igor about my dream and the grief that it triggered and he responded,”If you grew up in Hell wherever you move to is going to feel like paradise.” Moving away from L.A. to Lake Bluff was a dream come true for me and its opposite a nightmare. Lake Bluff was everything that L.A. wasn’t. I felt at home. I felt safe. I felt sure that my new home was my reward for all that I endured. It was the perfect place to have kids and raise a family. People describe Lake Bluff as Mayberry of the North Shore and that is the kind of place that I wanted to raise my children. The one and only reason everyone moves to the North Shore of Chicago for is because they have kids and the schools are great.

When we left Lake Bluff for Austin last year because of He-weasel’s job I was devastated. I was not just because we were leaving our home but also because we failed to fulfill our baby dreams and because of that we could never return. Or, as Igor said, “Moving there would be masochistic.” Yet, I miss it like a person I can never see again because to see them again would remind me of what cannot be and what I cannot have. I can truly never go home again. We cannot ever go back and that is a pain that I am today feeling more keenly than a kidney stone.

Even though we have a lovely place to live here in Valencia I feel homeless. There is nowhere in the world that is home to me. L.A. is not and never will be my home even though I am making lovely friends here. Lake Bluff is the Eden from which we have been ejected. I think endlessly about where we should try to get transferred. San Francisco? New York? Boston? All these places have their appeal and yet I cannot imagine making a home or feeling as at home as I did in Lake Bluff when I believed we would raise a family there. I know, I know, home is where the heart is and that is all well and good but I want a city in a state with an address and a place to put my stuff that feels like home to me and I no longer believe that I will ever know that feeling ever again. I wonder if there isn’t a bright side to that and yet I am unable to see it today, the L.A. sunshine is obscuring my view.

“The only paradise is paradise lost.” Marcel Proust

“You can never go home again, Oatman. But I guess you can shop there.” Grosse Point Blank (1997)

“Nothing is wrong with Southern California that a rise in the ocean level wouldn’t cure. “
Ross McDonald

Writing Fiction in Valencia

When I got the rejection from the agent a little over two weeks ago I felt like quitting the blog. I am not sure what the agent’s response had to do with my blogging but my first knee-jerk reaction was to stop writing and never write anything but a check ever again and not even that if I could just use my debit card everywhere. I told some of you that I thought about taking down the blog and you wisely told me to not make any big decisions in this state of mind. I agreed and decided I would give myself thirty days not to make any decisions. I wouldn’t take down the blog and I wouldn’t decide what to do next. I would just hang out until 30 days had passed and then I could decide what I was going to do next.

Now, while I suck at math I am aware it hasn’t been thirty-days since I got the email of rejection but I feel like I have cooled down enough to make some rational decisions. I have decided, for now, not to send my book proposal about the “I” word to any other agents. Truth be told I am feeling a bit sick and tired of thinking, talking and writing about infertility. Maybe in time that will change and as I have nearly half of a book written it is probably wise to finish it at some point—but for now I feel like filing it with the play, the novel I wrote over in ten days( you can imagine what great quality work that was) over 14 years ago and all of the homework I did in college and grad school( yes, I have every paper I every wrote in a file cabinet at Valencia Store-Ur-Crap).

What, I think I have decided ( thanks to Igor, WendyB, B, Anna Lefler, and Jamie)is that I am going to write a novel. Jeeze, I feel scared just typing that. I feel like as soon as I typed those words that the muses, who have seemed to have lived in Valencia ever since I arrived here and because of their proximity have graced me with inspiration, motivation and an endless energy, have just called Bekins Movers and are moving far-far-away and that they will never-ever-ever visit me again. Even with that fear I have decided I am going to do it. I am going to write a novel and it may suck and it will, I promise you, be the worst first draft of a novel in all of recorded history. I will not let the suckiness of that first draft stop me from writing it.

Here is my plan: I am going to take the advice of Carolyn See in Making a Literary Life and I am going to commit to writing 1000 words a day, M-F, of this crap novel( no need to encourage me and tell me it isn’t going to be crap. I am just saying that so as to allow myself to have no expectations that my writing needs to be brilliant in the first draft or maybe ever). I even bought a special notebook today (which is necessary marker for any new beginning) and I am taking notes and I am writing every thought I have about my story( of which I can assure you you know much of as my novel is just my life that you read here only with more details and dialog) and so far I am feeling like I might really be able to do this.

I have also decided, even though it hasn’t been 30 days, that I am going to cut down on my blogging so I can really get this crap novel done and get back to blogging more quickly.
My blogging plan is pretty simple: I am thinking that from now on I will post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I am planning to do one Lily post a week ( as how can I help but), one “Writing in Valencia” post and one “We are going to France in May” post which will recount each detail of my upcoming trip and occasional Igor inspired posts. Now, there will be weeks when I break those rules and write more often or about different topics but that is pretty much my plan.

If you all knew how much time I spent on blogging you all might be doing a group intervention and suggest I go into a good Internet addiction unit. So, as addicted as I am to all of your blogs and I am( I read over 200 of your blogs everyday and comment regularly) I am going to have to limit how much time I spend commenting on blogs. It is my hope to cut down my blog reading and commenting to the days I post on my blog. Golly it is scary to say that. Yet, I don’t want to not write the novel because I was instead spending four hours a day writing comments.

Please, hear me, I am a co-dependent blogger. I love you all so much and I love it when you comment and I love learning more about you and what you think. I love your blogs and I would hate it if you thought that I had just…. I don’t even know what I am afraid that you will think. I guess, truth be told, I don’t want to lose you as readers or as friends because I can’t write, read and comment five days a week. Feel free to tell me that my plan is a crappy one and that I have my head up my tukis and that I can’t write fiction and that not only should I not cut down on blogging days but rather I should up my blogging to seven days a week. I can take it.

With apology to Walt Whitman and thanks to friends

I remember reading somewhere that when Madonna has a major disappointment she gives herself two days to feel like crap and then she gets her well defined glutes back to the gym, and to Gyrotonics, and then a quick high-colonics. I am no Madonna. It often takes me two-three weeks and maybe more depending on the disappointment or rejection and my normal probably looks a lot like what Madonna considers to be full on slacking.

It has been only five days since my rejection and thanks to all of you I am feeling much-much-much better. I cannot thank you enough for your incredible comments, tremendously insightful and hope inspiring emails and all around loveliness.

Because of your kindness and encouragement I am off the couch and off the Cap’n Crunch Crackberry Crack habit before it was too late and I was a full on Crunchberry Beast with a four bowl a day habit on a corn syrup high writing poems of praise to my Cap’n:

“O Captain! my Captain! My cereal is done.
The dish is in the top rack and the prize in box is none.
The store is near, the delivery truck’s motor I wait to hear.
My stomach hollow seeks the carbs of Cappy’s berry crunch.
But O stomach! Stomach! Stomach!
I crave your berries as if crack.
Where on the shelf my Captain lied
now only oatmeal can be spied.

I am done with sweets and out of sweats and into jeans and sweaters. I haven’t cried in days and have even left the house. And, thanks to wonderful friends I even have this strange emotion I have heard some describe as hope and optimism.

My thanks to my following friends is even greater, if less poetry inducing, than to the Cap’n:

1. WendyB for so many reasons.
a) For believing in me.
b) For inspiring me to sit down and write an outline to a novel.
c) For starting an incredible Twitter viral marketing campaign with K.Line. You both made my heart a pitter with your very supportive and traffic inducing Twitters. Sorry, I am still coming down from the Cap’n crunch. Corn syrup and artificial berry flavors bring out the corny poet in me. But, seriously, when I saw your Tweets and Re-Tweets I was touched beyond what I can say in haiku or iambic pentameter. Thank you both so much. Hey, was that more than 140 characters?
d) For much more including saying:”You don’t have to give people hope if you can make them laugh. That generates empathy right there.” As Igor would say, “Vendy eez vise!”

Please, Wendy, in all your free time, would you be my agent? I feel like I could do anything including make my way to Oprah’s couch and the New York Time’s Best-Seller List if I was working with you.

2. Kirie for the kind of email every writer should get after a rejection. Really, I wish every writer could have a friend who is one half incredible cheerleader( the kind of cheerleader who takes it really seriously and goes to summer camp for cheer and wins competitions and could turn around any game with her cheering) and one half fierce protector and defender of you when you are too weak to defend yourself.

3. He-weasel for making me a pan of Hershey’s extra chocolate brownies. They are particularly medicinal when eaten directly hot out of the pan with vanilla ice cream on top.

4. Carolyn See for the kick in the ass email in which she said:”When an agent or magazine or book publisher or reviewer rejects you, you IMMEDIATELY take out your best stationery and write them a nice thank you note. Nine lines, three paragraphs, no insults, say you’ll try them again for as long as you live, and you plan to live a long time. Take it to the mail box IMMEDIATELY drop it in, walk home and pour yourself a drink. YOU WILL FEEL BETTER IMMEDIATELY.” Thank you letters, according to Carolyn, “are like Vicodin.” She is right. As soon as I wrote the thank you letter on my gorgeous La Belette Rouge stationary and mailed it and had a large Scotch I felt much better.

5. Christopher Orcutt for his generous email in which he helped me see that everything I have been told in books about submitting to agents is wrong. Thanks to Chris when I am ready to send out again I will not write a well researched and personalized letter for each agent but a one size fits all letter that I will send to all agents. Instead of sending out one proposal at a time as agents self-servingly recommend, I will send to 10-15 agents at a time so as to up my odds.

Also, Chris gave me my new mantra: “Don’t worry about getting an agent. Don’t worry about getting published. You are a writer. You WILL be published. Just make sure you’ll be READ.” That mantra kicks “Om’s” ass.

6. Thanks to Chris I signed up for Publishers This small action made me feel more like a professional writer instead of a total failure who would never-ever-ever write again. For $20 a month to have the hope that I might be discovered without a query is so worth it and it is tax deductable business expense should I ever make any money as a writer.

7. Make do style for being a fierce friend who believes in me and is not afraid to say naughty words to get me back on track. Between Wendy B and Make do I am emboldened to try fiction. I have long been afraid of fiction and I officially gave fiction up over 10 years ago. In just one weekend these two fashion powerhouses made me think I might be able to manage it.

8. Anna Lefler for everything, especially for the Undercover Brother suggestion. I would have never rented it without you. I learned a lot from Anna, not the least being that laughter and massage and time will make all things better.

9. Lily for all the licks. Licks are less drying and more moisturizing than Kleenex.

Thank you so much for all you did to get me out of the squirrel pajamas, away from Bravo realty TV, and back to writing. I cannot thank you enough except to say thank you.

*Cap’n Crunch is a crap cereal filled with high-fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors.

Writing in Valencia: Part Eleven

Rejection is such an ugly word. Re which means again and jection which comes from the English word abject, which was originally not an adjective but a verb meaning “to cast off”, “to throw down”, and, “to degrade”. So, I have been again degraded. I have been once again cast off the literary island.

Those who love me and mean well have advised me not to take this rejection personally but I can’t help it. Okay, it wasn’t me that was rejected but my writing has been rejected and it hurts. It hurts in the most personal of ways. My writing is inextricably linked to me. There is nothing more personal than my writing. My writing is my thinking and feeling made manifest and if someone doesn’t like my writing they don’t like me and while I get not everyone will like me I cannot help but take it personally.

The agent tribe has spoken. This rejection is the third agent rejection I have had in my writing career and I am feeling sick like I felt sick when I was rejected by my first love. I can’t work. I can’t talk. I can’t sleep. All I can do is recline in my ennui pose while wearing my uniform of despair: squirrel pajama bottoms and my Pepperdine sweatshirt. I occasionally eat foods that don’t require chewing, hence the soggy Captain Crunch I slurp down when I can manage to lift the spoon to my mouth. I have watched the crappiest of crap TV; I watched five hours of The Real Housewives of Orange County. My whole body is wrenched with pain. My hair, eyelashes and nails even hurt. I seem to have regressed into a lower evolutionary life form that cannot walk erect, a Neandra-gal without the bad brow, protruding chin, or the hair issues.

I am sad in the I just watched Love Story, The Outsiders and Life is Beautiful one after the other and right after I was broken up with only to discover my boyfriend is dating my best friend kind of sad. I cried until I broke blood vessels in my eyelids and then I cried some more. And no stories about how J.K. Rowling was rejected by every living agent would help lessen my despair.

My writing is so important to me and I want to get an agent more than I want a house or a trip to Paris or anything that Prada could make. To have an agent says that someone with authority believes that my work is sellable and that in their professional opinion they can make money off of me. For the last two weeks I have thought of little else. The two week wait until the rejection was like being, as the brilliant Kirie said, like being on point for two weeks. It is fricking exhausting. I was on constant pins and needles and no matter what I did it was on my mind. When I watched Lost I thought about what the agent would find if she visited my blog. When I took Lily for a walk I would worry that she might email me just as I left the house. Even when I had sex, thoughts about the agent would sneak in and interrupt which could quickly turn arousal into anxiety.

Waiting to hear from the agent was really a lot like waiting to hear if the IVF worked and whether I was pregnant or not. In both cases I had done everything I could do and there was nothing to do but hope and wait and agonize until I learned if this time I had finally gotten what I so desperately wanted. Each month when I discovered that I was once again not pregnant it never-ever-ever got any easier. It always was bone crushing grief that each time I was sure would destroy me.

As hard as the wait was it was harder to hear the truth, I will not be represented by this agent. I am of course disappointed. I was already in grief when my mentor warned me not to be sad in her note that proceeded the agent’s reaction to my proposal. The agent who kindly reviewed my proposal believes that my book offers no comfort or hope and is instead a book about my anger and grief. The agent believes that I haven’t yet made peace with my infertility. It is her instinct that my writing has been therapeutic for me but will not necessarily be so for anyone else.

I am sincerely appreciative that this successful and respected agent took the time to read my proposal and I thank her sincerely for her professional opinion and well wishes. She did say that other agents may not share her opinion. I hope that she is right about that last part. I may be wrong but I don’t believe that I need to make peace with my infertility in order to write about it in away that is meaningful or even therapeutic for others. I believe that books that honestly and authentically explore a difficult experience are more satisfying than books that offer easy hope and resolution to subjects where neither may be possible. Truthfully, I don’t think peace is possible when it comes to infertility. I think it is something I will and am learning to live with but it will always be a wound and a wound that will never heal.

I have to say that the books that are most meaningful to me do not offer hope but make room for the darkness and allow me to feel strum und drang and say in their subtext that suffering is normal and universal and that I am not the only one who has suffered, Dostoevsky for example. I, for one, would love to read a book that has the message “Infertility sucks and lets be honest about it” and then manages to find something to laugh at in the enormity of the pain that comes with being childless not be choice. Humour, for me, is a wonderful way to survive those things that feel like they cannot be endured or transformed.

He-weasel and Lily took me to Igor’s yesterday because I was too sad, despondent and grief stricken to drive myself there and I was only going to see him to tell him goodbye. I told him my plan. I was going to turn off my computer, disconnect my cell phone, and never-ever-ever go anywhere ever again( not even to get my hair coloured) and that I was going to become a house bound recluse. He, being the brilliant Igor that he is, totally got it. “Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. You totally put yourself out there and you were rejected and so now you want to pull in.” As soon as I heard him say that I knew I was not going to quit seeing him.

I told Igor the agent’s assessment of my proposal. He responded brilliantly, “This is the same kind of message you get from your mother. It is the message that the only thing that is acceptable is optimism and hope and that grief and anger are unacceptable.” He then thoughtfully contemplated and listed many important books that don’t offer comfort or hope. He advised me that I shouldn’t change it and that if I did turn it into a story that offers hope and it sold that it would not be satisfying to me because it isn’t true for me and he is right. I will not write a hopeful and happy ending book about infertility and if that is what I have to do to be published I never will be.

I shared with him some of the lovely things that Anna Lefler said in response to my rejection grief in her CPR for post-rejection notes and messages. Anna said things like I will not feel this way forever and that it sucks and that I should take good care of myself and get a massage and see Igor and that I shouldn’t make any rash decisions and that this was like buying a house and that I didn’t get my first house and that doesn’t mean I will never get a house. Igor said, “Annnah ez right! Annnah ez vise! Listen to Annnah!” Igor said that advice was coming from someone who knew this pain of rejection and who had the resilience to endure it. I explained that in hearing my friend’s advice I felt comforted and understood and
I could feel some relief in just merely being understood. I felt free to feel what I was feeling and comforted by hearing the experience of another who had been through what I have been through—even with no promise of hope or resolution. If Igor or my friends had told me that I would absolutely get another agent or told me how something wonderful would come out of this I would have felt worse than I had before as it would be too far away from how I was feeling.

Anna also told me that I should rent and watch Blazing Saddles, Rushmore, and Undercover Brother as an emotional and psychological brain palette cleanse as it was medically necessary. I am not sure that Igor would have said to this suggestion, “Annnah ez vise! Listen to Annnah!” But, she is and I can assure you that this trio of film is more healing than an entire row of double stuffed Oreos.

Beyond the sadness and the disappointment I am angry. I explained to Igor that what I am really angry about is not the rejection but rather my lack of resilience to tolerate rejection that is necessary to make it as a writer. Rejection is part of being a writer. Every writer has had it and the problem is that I don’t have the emotional bandwith to tolerate the rejection. My heart is broken by rejection and I sink and break and swear that I will never-ever-ever write again after each rejection.

Igor seems to think he can help me develop the resilience. “Really?”, I asked. I needed assurances and guarantees. I am far too fragile for empty promises. “Yes,” he said, “I think if you decide not to quit I think I can help you build resilience”. As I sat there thinking about his belief that he could help me with this I told him, “It is better to be a good writer with no resilience than a bad writer with lots of resilience. Because if I was a bad writer there is nothing you could do about that.”

I left Igor’s feeling a little more resilient than I had an hour before. Lily, He-weasel and I walked the streets of Beverly Hills and I even smiled and laughed and had moments of pleasure. For four full hours I didn’t cry and by the time I got home I had already started to think about what I wanted to write for this post. Now, I have already broken my promise that I made to myself just yesterday that I would never-ever-ever write anything ever-ever-ever again.

p.s. I want to thank Lily, He-weasel, Kirie, Anna, Jamie, Igor, and B for getting me through the last 24 hours.

About Me

My name is Tracey, aka La Belette Rouge. I am a psychotherapist and the author of Freudian Sip @ Psychology Today. I blog about psychology, my therapy, dreams, writing, meaning making, home, longing, loss, infertility and other things that delight or inspire me. I try to make deep and elusive psychodynamic concepts accessible and funny. For more information, click here .
These blog posts are informational only and not meant to replace individual psychotherapy, counseling or medical advice. If you are in need of help, reaching out to a professional may help you decide how to proceed or how to find the care you need. For a referral, contact

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