in receipt

Beautiful publishers say beautiful things and then We're sorry, but no... and then more beautiful things. It's a poop sandwich with branston pickle and melted gouda.

I read it out loud to the kids. If it were on paper I'd stick it to the fridge with the others. Some writers do that because it turns their crank to have a Wall of Publishers Who Passed And Will Someday Regret It. I don't. Each one is, really and truly, a gift. We look at them and the boys and I talk about rejection, all kinds of it. Creative, karmic, romantic. Nothing works out until something does.

We eat mac and cheese and chat about what to do next. They dip neatly in ketchup and drink fizzy pear and I stare at them, two babies, and here we are. Evan has his legs crossed like a guy in a cafe. He waves his fork in the air. Maybe you should make it longer. Maybe you should make it shorter. Maybe there should be zombies. Fair enough. An exchange like that—of asking for something really special and not getting it, at least not for now—brings you into the most honourable brotherhood of trying and continuing to try. Nothing comes of stamping off in a huff unless you're three years old and face not only literary rejection but also an interrupted nap and only two cheese strings instead of a thousand million plus a pony.

Doing anything cool is an unending practice in receiving rejection and figuring out what comes after it. Three little frogs sit patiently, off to the side in a patch of grass, sliding resin back and forth on bows and buckling backpacks and tuning, listening. I poke my head around a tree to let them know: not yet. They smile at me.