No Just Means No
My conscious words to myself as I woke up from a rejuvenating nap.
I actually had snapped awake, unaccountably chipper and smiling to and at myself.
There, there you silly boy … bit of a setback, but as dad used to say, ‘Sure, you’ll have that!’
One of that little bunch of stock sayings and observations he could — and did —apply to all sorts of situations.
Used to dismiss them as worn-out dad-isms, their sheen long since scuffed and dulled, until I realised it was all in the tone, and the experience and wisdom that lay behind the jaded, faded words was vast.
‘Yerra, we’ll go again’, said I to myself now — the same self who had flopped down on the bed not 20 minutes ago in a fug of recrimination.
‘Sure isn’t it all very first world, anyway … a newspaper features editor didn’t jump on the phone and gush all over your little masterpiece?’
And talk money.
Like the last time.
And flush with which I had offered up some more 1000 word epics for sale.
And then heard nothing.
Have heard nothing
No just means no I repeated now, marvelling at the very word ‘no’ … just a word, and it’s all about how you hear it, and how you react.
I’m not talking about the consent debate, that’s a whole other thing.
I’m talking about when you put something of yours out there and it’s rejected, not taken on.
Yes, It could be the latest crushing blow from an unkind, uncaring world, confirming your limitations and inadequacy.
Rejection, dismissal, blah, blah, and off you could traipse once again to the well of despair you sink into — wallow in — when things don’t go immediately according to the little fevered daydream of success and acceptance that lies behind your latest epistle and submission.
No just means no …. It didn’t work this time, but there’s no reason why it won’t the next time.
It’s personal, of course, but not really …
And here’s another thing, no just means no
So let the other person say it … it’s clear, it might sting, even, but it’s definite and ultimately, though it doesn’t seem like it, it’s kind.
And you’re free to go again.
Not waiting for the yes, fantasising just as hard over over acceptance as rejection.
Oh, the waiting!
And dealing with that.
Eventually composing queries, as polite as I can make them, killing even the hint of a snippy tone, but rather than a straight ‘no’, I have been told — twice now — how sorry they are, but it’s been hectic, and they will get to my submissions.
No just means no.
When you’re involved in what is ultimately a transactional business, no is part of that transaction.
For all sorts of reasons, your epics did not hit pay-dirt, and the editor might very well like your work — they wanted that first piece, remember, even sought you out — but this week, the next week, it’s not what they need, and they have a load of other things to consider.
It’s like the football team coach who really wants you when he wants you, but if you aren’t producing what he wants, or he is trying something else — all sorts of things going on in his head — ultimately, his thoughts have to be on what the team needs, not you, the individual player.
No just means no.
No in this case, usually means the footballer is not picked and after that it’s about how he reacts to being dropped.
Does he fight for his place? Bitch to the other players and his posse? Throw a strop and burn his bridges?
Fight and still not get his place back?
Time to move on.
Or hope that coach does.
No just means no.
Same with writing, only this time, you have all sorts of ways to go about it: check out what is being published regularly in your target marketplace, and bend your writing to suit that.
Me? I am used to editing and cutting but radically changing what I produce is maybe a step too far.
I’ll try another editor.
I’m a dog with a bone now, and I consult a seasoned writer I know and ask him to suggested places I might submit stuff.
A gorgeous and helpful man, but we ultimately end up having a good bitch and a laugh about how we have/had several rejections in common.
The best of rejections.
The occasional yes
But it’s what suits.
And I think of that great line from Phoebe Bridgers’ song Funeral:
I have a friend I call
When I’ve bored myself to tears
And we talk until we think we might just kill ourselves
But then we laugh until it disappears
Because no just means no.