Today was mostly a horrible day full of rejection, despair and anxiety. I got three rejections, one from a library for a job, one from a publisher for my Doctor Who book, one from a Jewish website for an article. I felt pretty useless. The email from the publisher was spelt badly, which somehow made it worse, like they didn’t even have to care what I thought of them.
I have applied to about 100 jobs in the last year, an average of two a week. Actually, strictly speaking, I have about a hundred jobs listed on a spreadsheet; some closed for submissions before I could apply, but I reckon I’ve applied to seventy or eighty (and I did apply for some jobs not listed on the spreadsheet). I did get two three-month contracts, so it hasn’t been a total loss and I am in a small sector and I’m dealing with depression, which most applicants aren’t, both of which are relevant. People are advised to apply to apply to a new job each day, something not possible for me without looking in another career sector and without having better mental health as some days I’m just too depressed to deal with applications. However you look at it, it’s rather dispiriting.
I also had a Skype call with my rabbi mentor where I felt I was unprepared and semi-incoherent. This is probably not true, but I probably was hoping for more advice than he can actually give. At some point I have to live my own life, but sometimes I feel so alone. I was so worried today that I would do the wrong thing and not be able to rectify it and no one would be able to help me. E. said she would help me and my family would to. This is true, but I worry that one day I will mess up so badly that they won’t be able to help, particularly as working out what to do about my relationship with E. is part of the anxiety and I worry about scaring her off or being incompatible. Some other stuff went wrong too, but it’s too petty to write about. But everything built up so that by 4.00pm I was just feeling absolutely lousy. I struggled to cook some dinner, do a few minutes of Torah study and go to shul, the latter partly because they are struggling for a minyan (prayer quorum), but mostly so I could give a thank you gift to the person who invited me for dinner last week.
I don’t know why I felt so bad. I did a lot yesterday and it’s not uncommon for me to have a bad mental health day after an active day, which is frustrating, but a fact of life that I’ve learnt to accept. I think some of it is anxiety about the situation with E., worrying that I will do the wrong thing. Not even being sure what the right thing is. There’s a lot of catastrophising everything that could possibly go wrong, even the mutually exclusive stuff. And I guess the job and publishing anxieties just sit on top of those things.
When I got home from shul I eventually called a time out on the day. I had dinner and watched The Trouble with Tribbles (a very funny Star Trek: The Original Series episode). I ate ice cream (Ben and Jerry’s Birthday Cake) even though I’m trying to lose weight – I felt I deserved it. My mood is somewhat better now, but I feel very tired, too tired to work on my novel (it’s too late anyway) or to do much extra Torah study (I managed about fifteen minutes in total today). I also feel close to tears, even though I don’t feel so depressed. All I can say is that I don’t think they’re depressive tears, more relieved or just tired ones
I try to tell myself that I’m doing well given that I’m still struggling with depression and social anxiety. I sort of believe myself and sort of don’t, which is an improvement on how I used to be, when I just beat myself up endlessly about stuff. I can see that I’m managing my anxiety better even on a day like today with some of the skills I learnt from CBT (postponing worry; grounding myself; focusing on problems that affect me now, not hypothetical future problems). I’m very, very grateful that I have E. even if things are very confusing for both of us.
I’m still looking for a publisher for my Doctor Who book. My Dad keeps saying, “Maybe the BBC will publish it. They make Doctor Who.” This is the sort of thing that sounds sensible unless you know otherwise. “The BBC” don’t publish books (these days I think it’s questionable how much “The BBC” exists as a single corporation the way it did until the 1980s, but set that aside for now). BBC Books was owned by the BBC, but was sold to Ebury Press which is owned by Penguin. I can’t find an email address of anyone there who might be an editor. I think most big publishing houses only take submissions through agents. The small presses I’ve submitting my manuscript to so far have been very specialised science fiction publishing houses. I don’t think the BBC/Ebury would accept something submitted on spec even if I could find an email address. I’m not sure it’s particularly sensible to look for an agent to sell this book when the writing career I want to develop is in a completely different area (literary fiction).
I found some long lists of science fiction publishers to pitch my Doctor Who book to, but it is hard to tell which ones publish non-fiction about science fiction. Most seem to be American, which is also a problem; I have pitched to American publishers, but only ones that have already published works about Doctor Who. I don’t know if general American science fiction publishers would know enough about it. And many of these publishers do not accept unsolicited submissions.
I’ve mentioned being signed up for some Elul/pre-Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) inspirational thoughts. Rabbi Lord Sacks was talking on one of them today about the violinist Yehudi Menuhin trying to reconnect with his Judaism in his old age. I feel that in the frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) community, we go wild over great Torah scholars and saintly people who are really close to God and we go wild over very secular people, particularly famous ones, when they make even a small movement towards Judaism (Aish.com is full of this kind of stuff). But I feel like I’m out alone, struggling to connect with God and Torah. I’m frum, I try to keep the mitzvot (commandments). I believe in God, I want to be a good Jew, I’m just struggling with inspiration and feeling that God cares about me and I feel that no one really cares what happens to me. I suppose this is about feeling alone in my life and having no one to help me too. The feeling that I’m not good enough for God or for other Jews. I don’t know what the answer is.