Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

A Dose of Stuart Smalley?

I want to start this entry by begging your pardon for any excessive self-indulgence and bitterness. But I don't deal with rejection very well, probably why I have a paralyzing fear of it. I just need to get this all off my chest, and I firmly believe that blogging about something like this is far better than developing an ulcer.

I got two rejections in the space of five minutes this morning. One was from Jackie Estrada, to whom I'd written after reading about her choice of judges for this year's Eisner Awards. I inquired, as I've done on and off for about the past ten years, as to when I might be considered for a slot as a judge. After all, I wrote weekly comics reviews for 4+ years; I'm a board member emeritus of Friends of Lulu (where I accomplished one of Lulu's lasting legacies by organizing the Women Doing Comics list, ironically with lots of input from Jackie); I have a 100% publication rate for my stories so far (4 for 4, albeit all for charity anthologies); I even broke two industry stories on my weblog last year (Alan Davis' X-men plans and the CrossGen non-payment situation, the latter determined by CBG to be the second biggest comics story of 2003 even though that publication all but ignored it - and by the way, as far as I know, CrossGen still hasn't paid any of its freelancers after almost a year!). I also read more comics, and a wider variety thereof, than just about anyone else I know. My credentials may not be good enough for my blog to be listed any more at ¡Journalista! - maybe I have to break three industry stories in 2004 to be considered worthy of blogroll inclusion again by Dirk Deppey & co.? - but I figured they were good enough to qualify as an Eisner judge. After all, Jackie's e-mail starts by outlining her category criteria, which jibes with what she's said elsewhere. But then she says, "You don't really fit into any of my judge categories." Frankly, given all that I've just written, I beg to differ.

The editor/wife of creator Batton Lash continues by explaining that I have a "conflict of interest" being married to a creator, which disqualifies me from even being on her potential judges list! Good thing past judges Anina Bennett and Janet Hetherington haven't had to get divorced! [/sarcasm] By the way, there's no "inker" category in the Eisners, just "penciller/inker combination," and it's not like Robin has a regular book or anything. (Publishers, please take note! Yes, at this point Robin and I are both looking for jobs...)

Jackie concluded by admitting she now has an "informal rule" not to have as a judge anyone who asks to be a judge. Ah, now it becomes clear. I would like to be considered, therefore I'm disqualified. I should have evinced no interest, like everyone else who becomes a judge because... they don't want to?

The other rejection wasn't nearly as final or as personal. It was from Kevin Hayden regarding me participating on The American Street. "Unlike OSP," Kevin explained, "I recruited enough folks for two people to post each day. In that process, 3 or 4 said they wouldn't even commit to their one day a week, but asked to post parttime. So... all the daily slots are taken. As I said before, though, since our underlying focus is about primaries briefly and swing states for most of the year, when non-regulars have something related to a state that'll help enlighten folks, let me know and I'll set you up so you can be one of our guests (that's what the 'Drive By Bloggers' spot is for on the sidebar.)" So I'm cool with that, actually - it just came after Jackie's punch to the gut so its worst fault was bad timing. I honestly can't blame Kevin for not considering me. New York isn't really a swing state, and my blog isn't focused on the political horse race - in fact, I don't actually consider myself a political writer or pundit anyway.

Which might be part of the problem, part of the reason I don't get invited to the group blog parties (although to be fair, I was accepted as a member of the League of Liberals and later as a member of the Liberal Coalition) or have my blog up for awards consideration (two people told me they nominated me for a couple Koufaxes, but Dwight and Mary Beth have pretty much listed all the initial nominees in every category and I'm nowhere to be found). I'm just not excessively focused on any one subject. I'm a little bit country, I'm a little bit rock and roll. Pen-Elayne isn't about anything in particular, it's a current events blog and a comics blog and a New York blog and a media blog and a silly sites blog and a just-about-anything-that-strikes-my-fancy blog. Not easily pigeonholed.

And of course, the elephant in my living room that I refuse to acknowledge is that maybe, just maybe, my writing simply isn't as good as those who are up for awards. And that my credentials aren't as good as those who are still doing comics reviews (which by the way I still am, just not regularly; I wrote at least half a dozen reviews for this blog last year), or who have the class not to ask to be involved in something. And that maybe I have no business even trying to be involved (in blogging, in comics, in whatever) given that I'm never going to measure up to people's criteria for inclusion. That the only thing I'm good for is grunt work. Even on the few occasions where I'm acknowledged it's like an afterthought; for instance, my 2002 Volunteer of the Year award from Lulu wasn't even mentioned in their press releases.

But you see, this is me feeling sorry for myself. This is me never being good enough. This is what rejection does to me. It makes me stupid and whinging for no good reason at all. This is me dismissing the Lulu award and being a Large Mammal in TTLB's Ecosystem and having a Blogstreet Influence Quotient of #150 even though I'm ranked 741st in popularity and drawing an average of 183 unique readers every day and mentioning inclusion in LoL and LC only as parentheticals, all because they don't fit in with my self-pity party.

And this is why, on the whole, I prefer to be other-directed. And why part of me actually welcomes the face-slapping rejections - welcomes the truth about myself. Because I know from rejection how unimportant and easily dismissed I am. And I know from my meager accomplishments how little they actually mean in the overall scheme of things. A little more than a week after I started this blog I talked about how blessed I am to have so many talented friends, how "I tend to go through life considering almost all my friends and acquaintances to be more interesting than me." I still believe that. If you're reading this, chances are you're more interesting and more talented and just plain more worthy than the person writing it. Yeah, sure truth hurts, but it also provides a much-needed dose of perspective.

None of the above is meant to fish for compliments or acknowledgements or anything else, by the way. It's just me blowing off steam and exorcising some personal demons and reminding myself again how important you all are (not only by comparison with me but in and of yourselves). Although I will confess, I'd still wouldn't mind if Dirk re-blogrolled me someday. :)