You’re a loser Robert, a voice he didn’t recognize emerged from his mind, but it sounded like it came from the walls and underneath the floor. It wasn’t a New Orleans voice, full of raspy innuendo or loving encouragement. No.
It was the voice of the critic. You went to college, it said, and wrote a novel. You got divorced, and wrote a novel. You drove to Denver and wrote a novel. Now you’re living part time in New Orleans and what have you got to show for it?
Before email, he would receive rejections in the mail. Short, impersonal statements wishing him luck finding publication elsewhere. Where else? The list of literary agencies seemed endless. He put his head down at the desk, wondering why rejection felt so alien, yet so familiar. He laid down on the couch and stared at the ceiling. He looked at the newspaper’s classified ads section for jobs. The room shrank. The future was somewhere else, a maze of choices, walls graffitied with sacred rituals no one had ever taught him, parables spoken in code, holy water burning with abandonment. He read Jack Kerouac at twilight and his ex-wife told him to go to graduate school. Instead, he hit the road.