Rejection makes a great catalyst for artistic expression. I have a binder full of rejection letters from the finest literary magazines in the nation. I look over them from time to time, to remind myself that I'm on the right track. One proof that I'm a "real writer" is the rejections.
Yesterday I received the rejection letter from Stanford University, declined for the Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing. I knew it was iffy, about 1500 writers apply each year, and only 5 are chosen. I like to think I got the "good" rejection letter. When I read the slush pile for literary magazines Zoetrope All-Story and Cranky, there were two levels of rejection. "No thanks" and "Please send more". I got the "Please send more" kind of rejection from Stanford. Maybe everybody did, but because I know of the existence of the two levels, I'm hopeful the wording of my letter indicates I survived pretty far into the winnowing process, at least.
Been an odd week for rejections. My phone still hasn't rung.
Another rejection: the David Cuthbert review in the Times-Picayune. It's laughable. Last weekend I read his fawning review of a production I thought well-intentioned but clumsy, and today his harsh review of our Tennessee Williams production. "Once again, Marigny Theatre's reach exceeds its grasp." Talk about an opening salvo. Having seen both productions, I can tell you, it's opposite day in Cuthbert-land. This may sound defensive, so what, but I read personality politics into the mix. I got harshed because Cuthbert personally hates my director, Glenn Meche, and perhaps the producer too, Timm Holt. "Who's my friend, who's not my friend" is modus operandi in much of New Orleans culture. Look at local politics.
My only note to David Cuthbert: The role of the critic is to illuminate audiences about the themes, purpose, and necessity of art. Today critics merely criticize, feeling they've protected potential audiences from wasting time while flaunting their own cleverness, often at the expense of comprehension. Mr Cuthbert, acknowledge sincere effort when you see it.