Baring my soul about trying to get pregnant at 40 (plus advice for those like me whose writing gets rejected)
Last year was a wonderful one for me in terms of writing for new markets; I broke into a lot of publications I'd wanted to write for, ranging from print ones like The New York Times and O, The Oprah Magazine to online publications such as DailyWorth and The Kernel. I believe the total was between 12-15, but life got busy and I never wound up doing a post rounding those up, so I can't say precisely. I can tell you that every time, it felt like a giant victory, like I'd cracked a code I'd been trying to analyze and solve. Each of those victories in turn spurred me on to keep pitching, keep brainstorming and keep writing.
I've decided to continue my goal of writing for 12 new publications a year in 2016. So far, I'm on track, aided by a very personal essay up now at Ravishly, a site I encourage you to bookmark, entitled "Trying to Get Pregnant at 40 Is The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done."
I wanted to share a little backstory and encouragement: I originally wrote this for a prompt (though I don't remember the exact wording) for The Mix, Hearst's series of daily prompts for their assorted sites, and it was rejected. I submitted it to a dream publication, one I've wanted to write for for years. The day I met with my publisher and heard that Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 2 would be happening, I got an email saying this dream publication wanted to publish the piece, with some edits. I was over the moon!
Long story short, that publication wound up not wanting the essay. Was I upset? Of course. Who wouldn't be? But I decided that the topic is too important to me to simply shove the essay aside and move on to the next one. Ravishly was another dream publication, so I sent it to them, and they said yes. They've even sponsored the post on Facebook, which makes me happy not because I get paid more, but because it shows they believe in my essay and believe that it will resonate with their readers, which I certainly hope it does.
Especially when you're writing about your most intimate thoughts, it can be daunting to keep submitting, to not give up even when you have no guarantee you'll be successful. Part of why I pushed myself is that I'll be launching a blog dedicated to this topic soon, because having a baby is uppermost on my mind these days and what I'm devoting myself to in 2016, so it seemed natural to write about it on a regular basis. That it's also something on the minds of other people I know, largely but not exclusively women, has been borne out by the feedback I've received, which has been encouraging and thoughtful and full of resources I hadn't come across before. I'm thrilled that I stuck with this essay, because as it turns out, the reactions on Facebook have been priceless.
For some reason, I actually held off on posting it there for a few days because this is a topic that makes me nervous. I worry about being judged or scolded or railroaded into trying every old wives tale remedy or potion. I worry about judging myself for having waited so long, for procrastinating on charting, for not having unlimited financial resources to try any medical means necessary of getting pregnant...really, there's no shortage of reasons I judge myself for not being a mom yet. But I've come to realize that it's okay to have those worries and fears, and that releasing them into the world simply makes me feel better. It doesn't erase them, but it eases them, and also gives me new insights and information I didn't have before. I now have a research list of methods and supplements and reading about fertility that I only got from friends because they'd read my piece.
It's perhaps a circuitous way of sharing, in some ways; I do talk to my friends who are moms about fertility but often I can be my most raw and real on the page. Yes, writing is my job, but it's also my calling. It's how I figure out what I'm doing and feeling and where I want to go next.
I share all that by way of encouragement for any writers who are reading this and feeling stuck or frustrated or unsure. If you're struggling with rejection, no that nobody likes rejection, but it's an inevitable fact of writing, and sometimes a given piece just hasn't found the right home yet, and sometimes, it takes time to match a piece of writing with its intended audience. There's nothing wrong with using trial and error, and taking those rejections as learning opportunities and chances to spread your wings, and your words.