Ah, the writing life!

For me, and I think for most, the writing life is feast or famine: years of not much happening, then little periods of publication or great strides on projects. And occasionally, it comes all at once.

The rejection slip is a great metaphor for life and all the many things we fail at every day.

To wit: I had two essays published this week, within minutes of each other. I’m thrilled. It was a nice personal moment in what’s been a very difficult week politically and globally. I think it’s important to mention that: wildfires in Oregon, the end of DACA, hurricanes everywhere—my heart goes out to so many people, right now.

So if you want a diversion, I’ve got two essays for you.

The first is actually about the writing life: it’s called “Why I Keep A File of All My Rejection Letters (And Why You Maybe Should Too!),” and it’s out on Girlboss, a cool online women’s magazine. Here’s a teaser:

I kept the rejection letters because I was told to.

In my first year of graduate school, a professor described a poet who’d wallpapered the bathroom with his. Without questioning why one would want their failures staring them in the face while they did their business, I nodded gravely and made a note of it. Apparently, writers saved—and sometimes displayed—their rejection letters.

That first year of grad school I learned all kinds of things about “what writers did.” For one, I learned to say “I’m a writer” when anyone asked, because if you didn’t believe it yourself, then who would? And that night, I went home and started a “rejections” folder, eagerly awaiting my first one.

The second essay is completely different; it’s called “In Praise of Mindful Birthing,” and it’s about how I harnessed a technique I learned through meditation to get me through Baby S’s birth. You can read it over on Elephant Journal. Here’s a teaser:

Fast forward to week 40: I’m sitting on my back porch on a swelteringly hot day. I had a castor oil smoothie for breakfast, followed by a trip to a delightful sadist of an acupuncturist who made me stumble around her office with my feet full of needles. The doula has arrived, and so has my friend Steph.

The candles have been lit.

On the stereo, sacred music by Hildegard von Bingen plays.

I am in labor.

I don’t have time to think about how different this birth is so far, with my candles, my team of women, and my sacred chants, because I’m breathing. I’m having a contraction, in fact. It’s painful, but I don’t think about the next one. I don’t panic waiting for the pause.

And…there it goes. I look lazily around the yard. A bumblebee nuzzles the late summer flowers. I can almost see the pollen on its back as it lifts off. A hummingbird stops by. My feet feel hot on the deck. The birthing ball beneath me sways lightly.

I am not in pain, I think to myself—not at this moment, anyway.

I’d love to hear from you! Got a question or comment? What’s YOUR experience of rejection–or giving birth? Drop me a line, below. And follow me on Facebook, where I just might read aloud from one of these essays a little later today.


p.s. Another article about mindfulness and Before we had Baby S, we had Cal