The empty mailbox is the bane of every aspiring writer; as dreaded as the legendary writer's block. For an unpublished author, even finding yet another rejection letter in your mailbox in response to yet another of your precious "babies" — your beloved manuscripts or proposals — being launched into the cruel world to test their wings would at least be proof that you indeed exist. The rejection letter (and there are varying degrees thereof, some better than others) signfies that you ARE a writer, that your words are being received and responded to by another entity, instead of existing in a limbo-like void! Sadder is the mailbox filled only with bills and junk mail because the would-be writer has never sent a single query or manuscript to an editor for consideration in the first place.
When I was first trying to get my articles published, I experienced a daily mailbox angst. Back then, e-mailing back and forth to editors was not an option, at least not for me. I had an old battleaxe of a PC, but no connection to the Internet, which had not yet reached the user-ubiquitousness it has achieved today. So it was the old snail mail agony — and snail mail from editors could often mean weeks, if not months, of waiting for a reply.
As a newbie, I struggled mostly on my own. Since I wrote "propaganda" for a living for a nonprofit organization, I knew how to write. I could craft the blab-vertising for the Man, all right — you'd be surprised at just how many different ways there are to say something is wonderful, marvelous, flawless, and the best in the land — but for many years never really dreamed of writing freelance, for newspapers, with a byline.
A GLIMMER OF HOPE
About 18 years ago, I had my first hypomanic attack, and it was a doozy. I started hatching multiple schemes — get married and have a huge reception, teach an editing class, go for a second master's (or a second and third simulaneously), convince my Luddite boss to explore computer applications for our office as of yesterday, and on and on. But of all the ideas that popped into my fevered noggin' at the time, the one that bore the most delicious fruit was my decision to take a journalism course through my alma mater.