The old me probably would have cried.  I would have let the feelings of rejection overtake me.  I would felt my heart harden – that feeling of something dark and solid and heavy growing in my chest. I would have viewed it as a referendum on my entire life: on the quality of my work, the level of my commitment, the degree to which I am even likeable.  The inner dialogue may have gone something like this:  “This agent doesn’t want to represent my second novel.  He hates me.  He hates my writing.  I’m a hack.  I was such an idiot to think I had a chance at this.  I’m dull, unoriginal, unqualified, a bad writer.  I have no idea what I’m doing.  He’s probably laughing at my feeble attempts.  My boyfriend probably thinks I’m a joke as well.  And so do my friends.  I’ll probably get fired from my job.  Why do I bother trying?  I’m not good at anything. And I’m fat.”

The tailspin into which an email like this – an email from the agent who represented my first novel, this time saying that he didn’t believe he could successfully represent my second novel — would have put me is quite real.  I can totally imagine going off the deep end.  Feeling it in my chest, in my heart and in my stomach.  Like a punch. 

But when I got this email last week it felt like a wave.  I felt slight disappointment – a hotness in my face. A contradictory shiver.  Something caught in my throat.  I let them wash over me. I needed to experience them.  It’s not my job to push them aside, quiet them, or deny them.  I told my sister about the email later that night.  I told S.  My voice didn’t even quiver. 

I really believe if I hadn’t committed to finding the love in all areas of my life, I would have been in that tailspin.  If I was in the place of hating on my job, if I was unhappy at home, if I was doing the writing out of obligation, if I wasn’t listening to my gut and pursuing other passions in addition to my passion for writing, I really think I would have been up a creek. I would have been checking the phone line to make sure it was still working.  I would have been testing my email connection, on the off-chance that some technological glitch was keeping his response to my manuscript from getting to me.  I would have been breathless; I would have had stomach-aches; I would have been raw from overexposure.

When I got the email, in addition to the slight disappointment, I also, admittedly, felt the slightest relief.  I had been waiting to hear from him.  I had been awaiting feedback since May.  And although I told myself over and over, I let it go…I couldn’t really let it go.  I was still waiting.  And I wasn’t really believing.  It was easy to name the goal, because I’d done the work.  But I never really saw it.  I even went to visit a bookstore that I thought would be a great place for a book party, and even then, standing on the landing where I imagined I might read as my family and friend congregated below, I still never saw it.  I didn’t feel it.  I can’t help believe that these outer circumstances are a result of my inner state. I wasn’t feeling it, I wasn’t in love with this idea of being an author with a publishing deal in this context, the belief wasn’t there.  So the belief wasn’t exhibited in by those in my outer circumstance, either. And that is something I need to sit with.  (There definitely are people who believe in me.  But it’s more of a blanket belief.  And for that I am grateful.)

The reassuring thing about belief is that I can see and feel other things I want in my life much more than I could ever see or feel a book deal or a party.  And I know that my words will get out there one way or another.  And those words will serve the greater good.