I woke yesterday to the news that I'd been honored with a great award by my MFA program, and 2 hours later learned that my critical research paper, "Wicked, Selfish, and Cruel: An Inquiry into the Stepmother Narrative," will be one of two graduate papers from Antioch University Los Angeles to receive the 2016 AULA Library Research Award. The award ceremony is in two weeks! What an honor! Or, as I'd say back in Boston -- wicked cool! Yet a deadline loomed for an essay I'd promised an editor, so I put off celebrating. But today I sent off the essay, knocked "revamp website" off my to do list, got in a yoga class, and now, now a glass of Storyteller Sauvignon Blanc.
I've been carrying a weight for a month or more. It's furrowed my brow and interrupted my dreams. It's interrupted other things too, budging in when the other things needed time and attention. It's been a weight of wait, actually. Waiting. Waiting for answers to too many questions. Answers that would say whether I'd tossed fertile seeds into proper ground. The waiting tousled my thoughts.
This week, when I didn't think I could take another day of it, I received a check from ASCAP reminding me that I've done this before - sowed seeds, waited. Five, seven, ten years ago I wrote and recorded a pile of songs that are now licensed around the world, and every so often I receive a letter and a check that says, yes, you were an artist and the songs you created are worth something.
And I received an email from an editor saying, yes, we like this essay, we want to publish it, and we'd like another supplemental one as well.
And other email reminding me of another editor who had said yes a little while ago, and that my piece will be published very soon. Tomorrow, perhaps.
And I received a rejection about something, also, but it was a strange rejection. It said that the "no" was not because I wasn't valued or that my work wasn't valuable. The "no," they said, was because they see too much in me - too much artist, too much writer, too much vision for the small role I had asked to play. When I asked to be pinned down, they refused. I can't think of another time I've been told no in this way. Or was it a yes?
After so much waiting, it's been a strangely uplifting week. A validating week, you could say. It is forcing me to confront how wary I am of validation. Not validation of you - I love you. Validation of me. Wary of the world, of people appreciating what I bring to the table, valuing what I want to contribute, what I desire.
This week surprised me with its gifts of Yes. I'm forced once again to examine the story I've tried to extricate myself from many times - that old trope of starving artists and struggle and failure. If there's nothing else I've gotten from living in Los Angeles, it's that art is valued, creativity is valuable, and artists, writers, and musicians can earn a living creating. It's an expensive city, sure, but having a community like that is priceless. And, man, this week feels good. The waiting continues, because I've sown a lot of seeds. But this week offered a few answers, enough to encourage me to keep going.
This afternoon's soundtrack: "We've come too far to give up who we are." Cover by Daughter, The Cure's Love Song meets Bjork.