We love getting them. They make us feel good. They point out our strengths. They stoke the fires of the ego.
I am not good at feeling good about them. Sometimes they go over my head like helium balloons, floating fast and high. Most of the them, actually.
Back in the 90’s, I went to a poetry workshop at Chicago State University. Gwendolyn Brooks was at a table when you left the mic. I have no recollection of which poem I read, but I do remember her saying to me “Keep writing. Keep writing.”
I had no idea what high praise that was. I didn’t ignore the advice, but at the moment it happened I didn’t run to my journal, write it down, note the date and memorialize it either. Needless to say, I wish I had.
Later in that decade, when I was writing fan fiction, I submitted my continuation to the Star Trek Original Series Episode called The Elan of Troyus to the Strange New Worlds VI, which was my first rejection letter ever. I was a lovely, well considered form letter with a check mark in front of the option two of six, a sentence that said ‘Good writing, but your story seemed to loose focus after the first few pages.’ Not good news, but there was a compliment glimmering in bold red ink. An underline of the last sentence of the form letter saying ‘I hope to see a story or two from you in the future’ and a one word signature DEAN, from editor Dean Wesley Smith!
Yesterday, at the Murder and Mayhem conference put on by Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter, I got another wonderful compliment. This one I will memorialize and share. It is about my poem Recipe, which is published in Revise the Psalm, Works Celebrating The Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks. I was talking to Lori Rader-Day, award winning mystery writer and she said that she didn’t read poetry. Recipe is a short poem, so I asked if I could read it to her. Knowing the passion of writers, she listened. When I finished, she was impressed. Her comment was “you’ve managed to mix mystery and murder into a poem!” High praise indeed! Thanks Lori, you made my day!
If you’d like to get a copy of the book to enjoy the 89 other authors and my two pages, here’s the link. Could you put my writing groups name FLOW in the notes when you order so that they know who guided you there.