I tell you what, if you want to be humbled (and who doesn't love a good humbling?), write a book.
I feel like running out and writing a letter to every author I've ever read, much less loved, and thanking them a million times over for the hard work they put into getting that book published. I had NO idea.
See, I made up this arbitrary goal in my head that I would send out as many query letters and proposals as I could before Rip's birthday this year. So far I've sent around 40. For what it's worth, I like sending out proposals a lot more than sending out query letters. To me, a query letter is kind of like showing someone your hand and asking them if they think you are attractive...which is great if you were lucky enough to be born with long fingers and have the time to run out and get manicures, but if you are like me and have a tendency towards man hands and usually have some kind of gunk under your nails...well, you get the idea.
So to this point I've gotten about ten rejections, all of which have been fairly nice and some really helpful. But the other night I got one that wasn't. The overall tone of the letter was so condescending I could practically feel her patting my head through the entire thing. Basically, she said there were a million books on grief and nobody was going to benefit from reading my crummy little story. That everybody grieves in their own way and my talking about what helped me was helping nobody but myself. That you can't help someone else survive.
I've got to admit, it threw me for a few days. Rejection isn't my favorite (as if it is someone else's), but I really started to think that maybe she was right. I mean, everyone does grieve differently. My story is my own, I can't tell someone else's story, I don't know how to tell someone else to get through their loss.
I stopped sending queries and proposals, decided it wasn't meant to be.
But see, the first line of her response was "I've never lost a child".
She is right, there are a million books on grief. She is right, everyone grieves in their own way. But as for helping someone else survive, see lady, that's where you are wrong.
After we lost Rip I needed someone to tell me how to get through the days, weeks, and months that followed. There could have been 500 books on grief, but if they had to do with losing a child and finding hope and strength and love and laughter...I would have ready every single one of them. Because knowing that one person can do it means that just maybe you can too, and if more than one person can do it, all the better.
So, today I send out three more queries, gunky fingernails and all.