Andile C. Shabangu

I was always the carelessly hopeful one in the sandbox; building sandcastles in the rain was something I’d revered.

I was the naive one; the one brimming with optimism and never more so than when after years of pent up emotion, unaddressed wounds and desperate attention seeking culminated in the completion of my very first manuscript.

Once again, an almost pious sense of bliss took hold of my suave gait and the way I saw the world; I was going to be great.

I was armed and ready; manuscript completed, synopsis typed out and prepared for launch and a glimmering query letter designed to enrapture the ever so elusive, literary agent.

With a tentative knock on my faux-wood (actually kind of plastic) dressing table, I sent out the first few queries.

It had been done; the stars aligned, my name would be imprinted like glamorous insignia on the pages of history and I’d finally make something out of this horrid state of existence. I was confident.

You never forget your first; that uncoordinated kiss, that fumble beneath the sheets and that dreaded ping from your phone and the accompanied generic: “We appreciate your submission...but...” the rest never really matters after the walls have caved in and the earth has split open.

Like flies drawn to the stink of a dying carcass, the rejections kept coming.

After a while you kind of just sit there and watch it all happen to you, I could have sworn that I hadn’t sent out as many queries as the number of rejections that kept coming in; each one bearing an uncanny resemblance to its predecessor and every one a blow to the ego. I blamed the faux-wood.

Then came the debilitating doubt. Like skeptic whispers from the demons I grew up with, they showered me with mockery and indignity; I was never good enough. I will never be good enough. What was I thinking? When has anyone in my bloodline ever ventured outside the pathetic norm?

I’ll never escape the injustice that burns through the dust mite infested trunks, like blackened veins and arteries, on my family tree. I should just give up.

After the steady stream of rejections began tapering off, I wore my big boy boots, dug my way through the surly rejections and found one very sympathetic and enormously helpful response out of the ten+ rejections received.

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson and armoured myself with the appropriate 'anti-high expectations' fortuitous apparel, but no. In all my blue-eyed-fuzzy-tailed wonder, I set out to edit my previously completed 'masterpiece' and went on to complete a total of four more manuscripts in my year of unemployment.

Five manuscripts and sixty plus rejections later, my cheeks still burn with excitement and save intermittent episodes of indignation, I’m still stunningly naive and optimistic.

So to the naysayers; I’ll forever be the carelessly hopeful one in that sandbox. I hope my windswept and rain drenched sandcastle will hold up because I know that come what may, those damn clouds have to part for the sun to shine eventually.

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