I've finally gone ahead and given Scouring Monk its latest revamp (and it looks peachy!), making everything hopefully that much more navigable (and when I say everything, I mean just about everything).
Last night my sister was flipping to The Voice, and I happened to catch Adam Levine tell a contestant none of the coaches chose for their teams (thus eliminating them from the competition immediately) that they shouldn't consider this rejection to be a repudiation of their dream, or in so many words, that it was merely a setback. Okay, so I love Adam Levine and all (Maroon 5 is more or less yet another unacknowledged modern pop giant, if you follow the critics, anyway), but the comment helped ruin my night, which might not have been so hard, given that I had a miserable end to another workday spent in purgatory.
Let me explain that a little. After Borders went out of business last September, I spent four months looking for work, and I was finally hired the week of Christmas, and started the second week of the new year. It's not that I'm not grateful to have a job now, but that I have once again been plunged into the reality of the workplace, and "reality" means, for most people, that it is in some form abject misery. It doesn't help matters that I've been trying to be paid for writing since graduating from college at the end of 2003, and have had one opportunity remove itself from me after another, which has led me into the sludge of the everyday workplace, and because I have a degree in English and no other reasonable skills but a willingness to work, I've been stuck working with the public. I don't know if you know this, but the public sucks.
Anyway, so when Levine told this girl that the show's rejection was not, in essence, personal, it just felt like a slap in the face to anyone who has to undergo this kind of treatment countless times in the continuing hope that one day it'll actually work out. Someone like Levine, who has had various forms of success fall in his lap (to generalize), may simply not be able to appreciate the emotional toll failure can actually take (even if failure in this instance involved TV time, but then, just about anyone can be on TV these days). The American Dream is supposed to represent the idea that hard work and dedication can prevail over any obstacle, but statistically it's impossible for everyone to achieve their dreams, especially when there are those who have who don't stop to appreciate the helping hands they got along the way. Maybe Levine thought the girl got her helping hand just by being seen on the show, I don't know, but the point is, he was pretty heartless in that comment, whether he realized it or not. (The girl at least paid lip service to her own belief that he was right, but then, what else was she going to say?)
All of this is to say, what Levine really achieved was making me reflect back on all my failures, and the concern that failure is all I will ever actually experience.
That being said, failure is not always the end of the story. Failure isn't even necessarily the outcome of the story. I happen to believe that there's something to gained from every situation, no matter how it makes you feel. Anyone incapable of that doesn't deserve my pity. I have not succeeded in becoming a published writer, but the journey I've taken since 2003 has produced a multitude of blessings. Sometimes, you learn something new and fruitful entirely by accident. Just to give you an example, last week I wrote my latest Quarter Bin column for Comics Reader, and made a reference to writer Elizabeth Hand, who at the time I knew virtually nothing about. I've been writing on the Internet for years, and have occasionally received responses from public figures who happened to stumble on what I wrote. Hand was probably one of the quickest responses. If she hadn't, I probably would never even have considered reading her more than I had already (a handful of comics, which isn't very representative of her career), yet now I'm working a few of her books into my reading future, and am seriously considering her to be one of my most important literary discoveries.
And just for the record, I started writing about comics because I tried breaking into comics (a process that continues to this day), so that's just another small example of what I'm talking about.
Yesterday, I ended the day on a miserable note. Today I woke up with the ability to pick myself back up again. I won't try and make any promises about tomorrow.