First of all, I'm half Italian. You know, the culture that invented bolangnese, hand spun mozzarella cheese, and the Vespa?
We also invented the grudge. Okay, perhaps not invented it per se, but I daresay we have elevated it to an art form. Lest you imagine that my childhood was filled with Tommy gun-filled violin cases and goodfellas, I should clarify: it wasn't. But it was filled with admonitions to never shop at a certain deli or never fraternize with members of a certain family. Why? No one is entirely sure. There are bits and pieces of the 'why' floating around with various family members-- a slight, a crooked business partner, something going back to the old country (which, in this particular grudge match, was Schenectady).
We don't have family meetings in the back of an old, marinara scented restaurant nor do I have an uncle with a name or stature resembling Paulie Walnuts (no, it's the more innocuous "Bill"). We haven't planned a major revenge maneuver and when we see the deli owners or the family members we are all cordial and polite--again, because we don't remember why we shouldn't be and neither do they. However, when I told my grandmother that one of the "others" joined a group I was leading, and she asked about Gram, and isn't that interesting? My beloved, soft-spoken, cookie-baking Gram just narrowed her eyes and said, "[GRUDGE SUBJECT FAMILY] are all a bunch of crooks."
Have a cookie, dear.
So when it came to my writing career--and the slew of forced-kind, bland rejection letters and slights from other authors (usually from the literary fiction population) asking when I was going to write a "real" book--did my Italian fury blaze up?
When I got my first contract I had every intention of knocking on every rejection'ers door and waving my new contract at them with a sneer. I planned on seeking out every one of those "I write real literature because everyone is depressed and nothing happens" jerks and screaming "at least people read my books!" The fire was there. The fury. The inner Italian thumb biter who would pass my legacy of mistrust on to future generations to adhere to, though have no real idea why.
But then...I forgot. And when I remembered, there was no reason to be mad. I made it anyway, no worse for the wear, and I understand why I was rejected and really, it was no big deal. Grudge holding was only making me made, making my blood pressure flare up, and making me insert painful deaths to male characters who looked shockingly like the guy in my literary theory class who said, "you write like you talk. You can't do that. You can't!"--not that I remember his name or would know him from Adam if he ever walked back into my life. Unless he was still wearing that stupid hat.
The moral of the story is that if you're holding onto a slight or a perceived wrong, you've dedicated that corner of your brain to remembering pain. You've let that memory take up free real estate in your head and nothing will come of it. So, forget it. You'll feel better, cleaner, lighter--you'll be the better person and you'll have one new person on which to inflict a heinous literary death if you so choose.
Then close the book.
Come on, what is a grudge going to do for you? Nothing. So fuggedabout it!