It’s either a sign of how lucky I’ve been or, alternately, how particularly unlucky I’ve been in terms of a lack of workload, but when I had a piece returned to me this weekend as being rejected and in need of a line-one rewrite and rethink, it was the first time in a long time that’s happened. Which, it should be noted, sent me into a spiral of self-doubt and recrimination that, if I had more self-awareness and presence of mind, I would probably be embarrassed about in retrospect.
The problem wasn’t that I received such critical notice that my delicate sensibilities were offended, nor than I had done such a terrible job that I got an email savaging my very attempts to put more than three words in order; I actually received a very polite, almost apologetic email that argued in an eminently sensible manner that what I had written was going in entirely the wrong direction for the target audience. Looking back on what I’d written, I have to admit: they’re right! I 100% had aimed myself in the wrong place and just went for it nonetheless. But still, even that realization was enough to sink my self-confidence to near-parodic levels.
I spent the rest of the day managing to convince myself that I had done fucked up in the worst way possible, and that in doing so, I’d demonstrated that I couldn’t do the very thing that I’d been employed to do, and therefore shown myself to be utterly unemployable. I had the sinking feeling in the stomach that comes from that deeply-held conviction that I’d fucked up in an entirely irreparable fashion, and my brain wouldn’t let me rest until I’d written an entirely new piece that I hoped would salvage my clearly tarnished reputation in some small way and keep me from being thrown into a hole marked “never hire, ever again.”
I sent the email with the new version at 9:30 Sunday night. By 6:15am the next morning, I was told there were no notes, it was perfect, and I blushed at the memory of how convinced I’d been at calamity the day before.