After years of enduring the Saint Valentine’s Day holiday, I may finally be ready to wave the white flag and surrender. Finally listen to the universe when it calls to say ‘Enough, already, stop doing this to yourself.’ I may take heed and just stay in bed this coming 14th day of February.
Those are the opening lines of a piece I had accepted this week about Valentine’s Days past (‘The Universe called to say stay in bed this Valentine’s Day’). It was about the pathos of how that pressure of a day never quite lived up to the romance sold to me by movies and media.
Yet, that same piece of prose had been rejected by another magazine the previous week.
I stared at the rejection email, and mused how the me of old would have dealt with it. (Hint: not well.) I would have set about butchering my words to fit someone else’s aesthetic. Albeit you do have to do that sometimes. Take a piece of writing and tweak it so that it fits with the voice of the magazine you’re pitching to.
The trick is not to lose your own voice in the process.
On this occasion, I didn’t change the piece because, in hindsight, I had submitted it to the wrong place. That piece of prose and that magazine were the wrong fit, and no amount of tweaking would fix that.
This is like the Valentine’s Day mishaps I recount in the piece. My romantic notions of that day, and the people I tried to mould into those notions, were not a good fit. I was trying to get mere mortals to live up to the romantic hyperbole I had swallowed whole from the movies.
I have since wised up, and some of my romantic missteps before this wising up, now make comic reading:
In the meantime, our loved ones may not buy us flowers and chocolates this Valentine’s Day, but you know what? Taking the trash out without being asked is also way up there.
Let us prize that sort of everyday love, and put into better perspective a day designed to sell products.