Before I do anything in my life at all challenging or stressful, I like to read about it. It's an old academic habit, I guess, needing to study before the test. So I've read lots and lots of stuff about "the writer's life" the last couple of years. Pretty much all of them say the same thing. Something like:
So you want to be a writer! What are you, stupid? Do you have any idea how difficult that is? It took me twenty-six years just to write and publish this book you are reading. I was rejected by one hundred and seventeen publishers. I was rejected by eighty-six agents. I was rejected by Emily Shipley at my high school prom.
She was wearing a sparkly blue strapless dress and silver heels, drinking punch by the door with Tiffany Thicke, and I walked over and said, "You look beautiful tonight, Emily. Would you like to dance?" Isn't that good? That's good, right? She mumbled something about not wanting to leave Tiffany, so we stood there making awkward conversation for five minutes before I pretended I had to go to the bathroom and left. Then like, literally five minutes later she was dancing with Kip Freeman. Kip Freeman! His name is Kip.
But that's what life is like as a writer. The world is full of Emily Shipleys and Kip Freemans. All the Kips of the world will land beautiful dates in strapless blue dresses and six-figure book deals with major publishing houses. And you will come up with something brilliant and heart-felt and simple, something like "You look beautiful tonight, Emily. Would you like to dance?" and get rejected over and over again. You'll pretend you're going to the bathroom and get yourself a job as a barista or a substitute teacher, or maybe you'll luck out and land something at a library. And you'll saunter back to your friends and try to explain to them why you failed.
Can you handle that? Because if you can't, you should stop now. You should just stay with your friends on the opposite side of the room and make fun of people until after-prom, where you can eat six or seven tiny subs off the Subway party platter and concentrate on playing poker and blackjack for fake money. It's a much safer bet.
Or something like that. And I would read that and think, "Sure, maybe that applies to some people. But not me. I'm Jordan Jeffers. I started for my high school basketball team. I beat Super Mario Brothers 3 on NES. I have not one, not two, but three complete boxed sets of the Chronicles of Narnia. There's no Emily Shipley in the world that will say no to me."
But of course pretty much everyone has said no to me: the Emily Shipleys and the Tiffany Thickes alike. Maybe if you would have rejected me more as a kid, I'd be able to handle it better. We're still allowed to blame our own failings on our parents, right? That hasn't changed? 'Cause I'd really appreciate you taking the fall on this one.
Oh don't worry, I'm not quitting. Actually, I'm starting a novel in April, soon as we get back from Italy. It'll be beautiful and simple and real, and probably no one will like it but you and Madelyn. Emily Shipley certainly won't. But I don't care. I'll just ask someone else. The weird new girl in the copper skirt, maybe. She looks like a good dancer. Or maybe I'll just dance alone for awhile, and see if anyone joins me. Either way, at least I'm dancing. No more fake bathroom trips for me.
Hope you are doing well.
With love always,
Your son Jordan
Jordan Jeffers writes letters to his mother on the Internet because stamps are a form of witchcraft. Feel free to give him electronic encouragement via the little Facebook and Twitter buttons below. It means more to him than you might think.