Monday, January 23, 2012

Who Defines Me?

By Evelyn David

I was talking to a friend whose oldest child is in the midst of the college admissions/decision process. Needless to say, it's very different from when I was a senior in high school. Granted that was a minimum of a million years ago, but if you weren't going to the state university, you applied to three or four schools in the fall, and come April, you got your letters: fat envelopes signaled acceptance; thin ones were polite no's. It was probably the only time when being fat was a good thing.

By the time my oldest was ready for college, things had ramped up. SAT prep was a given. Students applied to many more schools. But a dozen years later, when my youngest was in the college mode, there had been a sea change. Among other things, the whole application process was now online. No stamps were involved on either end. College admissions had become a multi-million dollar industry, with private college admissions counselors charging as much as $40,000 for their services.

But here's what hasn't changed, even from when I applied to school.

Rejection still hurts. Whether it's from your first-choice college or it's from a publisher who has decided that your mystery doesn't fit their needs – it's painful to the core to be told that you don't make the grade. There are usually lots of reasons for the rejection that have absolutely nothing to do with you or your work. But when you're in the midst of it, when you've gotten the real or virtual "thin" envelope, it's very personal and the wound can run deep.

Most writers are full of self-doubt. Being rejected merely confirms your worst fears about your talent. You can sell 100,000 books through Kindle Direct Publishing, make more money off your self-published mysteries than you ever did through traditional publishing houses – and you're still looking for outside confirmation that you're a "real writer."

Or is that just the insecure me talking?

I can remember when my oldest got deferred from his first-choice college (the decision on his application was put off until the regular admissions cycle). He was hurt; I was devastated. But when I pulled myself together and thought it through, I was able to tell him what I need to remember myself.

Don't let someone else define you. Whether it's an admissions officer, an editor, or a reviewer, you can't let their decisions, be it reasoned or capricious, affect your sense of self-worth. You are who you are, valuable and worthy, regardless of whether they decide to let you in "the club."

I wish for each of you fat envelopes that say yes to your dreams. But if a thin envelope is delivered, don't stop believing or pursuing your passion. You may have to take a different route to achieve it, but your worth is never in question.

Marian aka the Northern, often insecure half of Evelyn David

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Sullivan Investigations Mystery - e-book series
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Murder Takes the Cake Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords


  1. I'm going to take this post, print it out, laminate it, and put it on my desk. What a wonderful thing for all of us to remember. As you know, when people ask me what I do, I always go to my default, telling them about my day job. But I'm a writer. I'd be a writer even if I didn't have any books out. It's what I live for, what I do. Thank you for reminding all of us that who we are resides in us, not in the outside world's opinion. Maggie

  2. Thanks Maggie. I'm too easily defined by outside forces. New Year's Resolution: No More!


  3. Oh so very true! We're always looking for outside validation and, even then, we may consider it suspect - lol! Great post!

  4. Thanks Kathy. Wasn't it Groucho Marx who said, "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member"? Outside validation indeed is often seen as suspect, despite desperately being desired. OY!

  5. I think that college admissions processes are so arcane that it would be hard to figure out what went wrong-or right-for that matter. But this blog is pure gold. We need some validation, but in the end we need to look in the mirror and figure out who we are and what we love. Besides, who are you going to choose to define you? (Big smile here).

  6. Thanks Lil. You are always so kind -- and wise.


  7. One other thing to remember: Sometimes the thin envelope is the true lucky break because of the direction you take after getting it! Like any set-back or bump in a given road, sometimes rejection can be a plus, even if it seems not to be that way in the moment!