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  • Writer's pictureKatrina Carruth


I am no stranger to grief.

It's knocked me on my ass on more than one occasion, often out of nowhere, and continues to do so regularly as if I need a reminder that it will never cease to exist in my life.

And, unfortunately, it's that time of year when several death dates and my favorite holidays weave together like they're in on some sick joke. One I have to endure every holiday season.

Recently, I've noticed it's becoming more difficult for me to roll with the punches when I get a story rejection. I've submitted more stories this year than ever before, and have yet to receive an acceptance.

As a slush reader, I'm very conscious of how many stories I fall in love with that, for various reasons, don't make it into the current issue. I know how phenomenal slush piles can be, and I have an understanding and respect for the process that has taught me not to take rejections personally.

In fact, it's not the rejection itself that weighs me down, so I had to ask myself, what WAS weighing me down?

I sat with this for a few days. Then, one evening, while in the middle of an emotional whirlpool, it hit me.

Rejections trigger my grief. I'll explain...

I LOVE writing. Always have. I've got stacks of stories I wrote the second I could hold a pencil.

I also LOVE people. I love the people in my life so much it hurts. I know that sounds cheesy, but it's true. When I'm worried about someone I have legitimate visceral responses to those thoughts. And when someone dies? I'm shocked that my organs continue functioning as if they hadn't received the memo that we are not, actually, capable of carrying on (I gave up on the "keep calm" a long time ago, long live chaos!).

Grief I experience when I lose a loved one comes in the form (as all grief does) of love that has nowhere to go. Which is infuriating. I love sharing experiences with people I love, and when that option is gone I feel extremely lost.

Enter: rejections.

My stories bring me so much joy. They're a joy to think up, a joy to jot down, a joy to edit and polish, a joy to discuss with fellow writers, a joy to daydream about, a joy to submit, a joy to put so much hope into...

It's not getting a rejection that hurts. Not for me, anyways. The emotions that get kicked up come from an all too familiar feeling: wanting desperately to express love and share it with others but not having anywhere for it to go. It's an exhausting build up brewing in me at all times that occupies such a massive part of my thought process, and can sometimes feel overwhelming. It's that suffocating stifle of energy that feels trapped and I'm floundering figuring out what to do with it.

But that feeling won't stop me from writing any more than it will stop me from loving people. And, I guess it's somewhat poetic to charge recklessly again and again into situations that lead to anguish and torture. But, just like with relationships I share with some really incredible humans, sometimes it really pays off.

And it's THAT feeling that I'll chase forever.

I wish I had more closure to end this with. I don't have a solid plan that prevents me from feeling grief ever again, so I don't have any mind blowing solution to dealing with rejections. Only that, I think it's safe to say that any passion is worth pursuing regardless of the outcome. And that focusing on the joy it brings you instead of the pain is likely what will keep pulling you through this tumultuous life.

AND, if that doesn't work, might I offer you my memes to save and share when you receive your own rejections? I find they provide a little boost to my mental state when I need it.

Keep writing and carry on!

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