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Amber Paulen

Something Ingrown

The other morning I woke up to the dream that a short story had been accepted by a literary journal called Camera Obscura. When I checked my inbox later that morning, I saw there was an email from the literary journal Camera Obscura. I opened it to the same response: I’m sorry, unfortunately, etc. My dream got the journal right just not its verdict, though I would rather have hopeful, untruthful dreams any night.

Some retrospect on writing: about a year ago I finished a manuscript with understandable excitement. I had written the thing for myself, paying very little attention to the written world published around me. Then I went brushing up against that world with expectations. Oh la la! It’s not that easy. And I don’t think it ever will be. Humans are not programmed to receive rejection and continue on in that direction, unless we’re heedless, tough-skinned fellows, which a writer has got to be. A writer has got to be confident even if there is little to be confident about but an ingrown belief in some words composed.

Rejection has its benefits. I feel it, the restlessness of my work. I can’t get comfortable. I’m squirming around in a potential fantasy, pushing my writing over its previous edges. And now for something completely different! That’s what I’m repeating to myself all the the time. I’m getting excited. I’m letting the excitement build-up, frenetic molecules of thought-ideas bashing into each other, shooting off to some place unthought. Let the beauty of this catastrophe come tinkling down like light of a dying star.


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