“The season of pollen and rejection”



My editor and I were grumbling about recent rejections—mine being the elimination of my book Scourge of the Righteous Haddock after the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, which turned out to be a bigger emotional blow than it probably should have been—and we agreed to blame our literary woes on spring.

“The season of pollen and rejection,” he said.


I feel sort of guilty attacking what many view as the season of reprieve from endless storms and mountains of snow that require people who like and want to keep their toes to bundle up before leaving the safety of their home. But for me, spring has never meant or brought relief. Growing up in California, I never required any break from cold or rain; in fact, I appreciate every precious drop and snowball. I do enjoy the two months or so in February or March when we typically get a couple of days of rain back to back and the mountains are green for an all-too-brief while. But it doesn’t last long, and it’s never really enough rain to constitute a season.

Spring means all my favorite holidays are over, that my birthday has passed, and my workload at the paper has doubled while I try to finish our annual Best Of issue. It’s a restless, drab sort of time unmarked by any special occasion or characteristic.

Summer smells like warm sand and sunscreen, and though I don’t particularly like hot weather, there is something intoxicating about throwing on a pair of shorts and playing outside, the fact that the season always justifies the purchase of an ice cream cone. Frankly, I know a lot of this perception is owing to my childhood memories of summer as a season of leisure and relief from stress and obligations. But that doesn’t stop the thrill of anticipation at its approach.

And autumn is the finest season of them all when the air turns slightly cooler and smells of smoke and everything is pumpkin flavored. Autumn is the season for wonderful things to happen, the season for anticipating all the wonderful holidays yet to come, and some weird part of me truly believes that if an acceptance letter from a publisher ever does come, it will be during this season. Autumn is Bill Murray’s birthday in September and Halloween in October and time with my family in November. It’s melancholy bonfires at the beach, and the transition from milkshakes and boba to hot chocolate and cider.

Winter carries its share of wonder, even without the snowmen and sledding and dog mushing I so desperately love. Sure, it’s rarely actually cold, but the slight dip in temperature is enough for me to pretend. Maybe I would find winter tedious if I lived in climate with honest seasons that interrupted my daily routine. Instead, I get all my favorite traditions and pastimes in a frenzied flurry of Christmas trees and birthday presents and the kahlua cake my mom makes only once each year.

Spring … yes, there are Cadbury eggs and Easter baskets, both of which I like quite well. But I just can’t get beyond the feeling that I have to slog through these months in order to get to the good stuff. I can’t quite make myself believe that anything good can or will happen during this drabbest of seasons. Spring is planning for international travels that won’t happen until summer or fall, and everyone shaking off their season of indulgence with cleanses and fasts and diets, all of which depress me though I make a point of avoiding them. Spring is scrubbing the house because there’s nothing else to do, because the house should look its finest for all the wonderful things to come in the very distant future. It’s the season when students weary of their confinement and yearn for summer and freedom.

Or maybe, I’ m just a writer tired and worn down from rejection and looking for something else to blame for the latest failure.



  1. […] years ago (minus approximately one month and three weeks) I lamented that spring was “a restless, drab sort of time unmarked by any special occasion or characteristic.” “The season of pollen and rejection” I called it. At the tail end of my first winter in […]

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