I found them today. They have been neatly stacked just three feet from my keyboard for months. They were on top of my book proposal and it was time for them to go. I scattered them on the floor, put on some of my favorite dancing shoes, and jumped on them while music played loudly until I felt that their negativity was completely gone. The hold they had over me has been replaced with the joy that I get from dancing around my office. So there!
Why was I saving all of those initial rejection letters from literary agents? What was I saving them for exactly? To make myself feel rejected? Was I going to frame them? Where they supposed to motivate me to work harder? Because they certainly haven't motivated me at all. They sucked the wind out of my enthusiasm for writing. They drained my drive. They fizzled my fire. Just because those 20 people didn't want my book project does not mean that I'm not going to succeed. It just means that those particular agents were not for me.
Being rejected is just part of the game. Those letters weren't the first rejection in my life (that started in junior high school), and they won't be the last. They were just part of the process. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Not sure what I'll do with them once I pick them up. I might file them away so that when my book is published and I'm hugely successful, I can go back and read them and laugh about how crappy they made me feel. But I'm already feeling better now they have been stepped on. I've taken back my enthusiasm. I've taken back my drive. Sometimes it's hard to remember that I am in control of my destiny. Not some agent. Not some rejection letter. Not a stack of dirty laundry. Not a sink full of dishes. Whether or not I success is up to me. No one else can do that for me. And I'm not ready to give up.