Yesterday I heard from Hambidge, an artist residency program in Northern Georgia. They hadn’t promised to notify before July, but for some reason I had expected to be contacted by now, so naturally I assumed that since I hadn’t heard yet I was being rejected. What a wonderful surprise to get my email yesterday afternoon with the first line “Congratulations!”
I’ve been awarded the month of November, which was my first choice, so I’m thrilled. I’m not a big fan of Thanksgiving (I’m a vegetarian and hate to cook) and I always like to have somewhere to be so people don’t feel obligated to invite me for dinner and I don’t feel obligated to endure the family dysfunction of non-family. There’s nothing worse than having dinner with people you really like but wishing you were in some back room spending time with your keyboard and your characters.
I’ve mentioned before what a gift it is to receive a block of time with nothing to do but write. What I haven’t mentioned is the lift you get from that acceptance email or letter. Rejection is such a huge part of the writing life, and with enough rejection it’s easy to start feeling little prickles of self-doubt. When we have a story accepted for publication, though, or are offered a residency, we have proof that someone out there values our work. And that’s possibly the greatest gift of all.