Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ghost Hunting

The past couple of months have been very productive. Probably more than ever before, which has been good for some peace of mind. Between the regular work hours at my full-time job and the freelance writing for the Observer, there hasn't been much time to sit around and think. It's just been go, go, go and go to sleep at some point late at night.

Some of the most recent articles that I most proud of had been in the works for a while. The story I did on the Cool Devices studio had been kicking around as an idea for almost two years. Writing about the owners of Red Pegasus Games and Comics was a spur-of-the-moment idea after the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage, but I knew one of its owners through job networking over a year ago. And writing about Rahim Quazi was a fun exercise in piecing together a story that gave me nightmares.

After my piece on Rahim ran, I interviewed him for my podcast. Something he brought up in our hour-long conversation has frequently come back in my mind. On the topic of promoting his new record, Ghost Hunting, with shows and possible interviews, he talked about an anticipation of rejection often leads to not trying at all. If he wanted to put together a dream line-up, sell out a local theater, and do press interviews, he wouldn't have been able to accomplish such without looking beyond possible rejections. Instead of "Why bother?", it was "Why not?"

A big reason why this idea keeps coming to my attention is that I'm currently faced with something that could lead to a rejection letter. I've decided to propose a short book idea to a publisher that focuses on many of the greatest albums ever made. The deadline is in two weeks and I'm working on my proposal almost every day, including weekends.

The call for submissions is for anyone who thinks he or she is qualified to write a couple hundred pages on a single album. I know a handful of writers who would like to submit a proposal, but for various reasons, they won't. Whether it's scheduling or just not having enough free time to commit to such, I find myself in a predicament that's a little too easy to chicken out on. I have the time and drive to do such a thing, and I know I might not always have the time or drive down the road.

I could imagine hundreds of better proposals from writers who are more qualified than me. I could imagine how a rejection letter will read and what it could look like. I could imagine people laughing at me for even trying. With a lot of other things in my life, it would be easier to take a safer route of letting things come to me rather than me coming to them. Let the good things fall into my lap and not think of trying something that's a little out of my comfort zone.

I've never been friends with rejection. Rejection says I suck, my ideas stink, and I should find the darkest corner in my home and not bother anyone. As much as I should try to come to accept rejection as part of the journey in getting what you want in life, it's easier to run in the opposite direction. The anger and sadness I usually feel with rejection doesn't encourage. It discourages.

But there are times when the fear of future rejection is overshadowed by the fear of regret in not trying. It can be easier to get over a rejection (especially if something better happens not too long after it), but the regret of not at least putting yourself out there can be almost impossible to forgive yourself in the long run. That's what I try to tell myself everyday working on this proposal. The odds are not in my favor, but they're not in anyone's favor.

What helps me stay focused is thinking about what else I could do if I get a rejection letter. If my idea gets turned down, I'm not going to stop writing. Hell no. There's the long-gestating third book I would like to write about pop culture critics. But if my proposal is accepted, then I will get to that book (still titled Forever Got Shorter) after I finish.

Sometimes the biggest hurdles in life are staring right at us everyday. Like a ghost that follows you around, it's easier to acknowledge than fathom a life free of it. But a great question to ask yourself, would I be happier and better if I didn't have to constantly talk myself out of good ideas? That's something I struggle with, and sometimes the struggle puts me into motion, potential rejection letters or not.