Last weekend, I cleaned out a file cabinet that contained almost 40 years of articles and story files. These were the manuscripts I sent to magazines, some that aren’t even in business anymore.
As I sorted through the files, I tossed old drafts and reams of research that is no longer current or credible. I filled two large trash bags with my old work and made room for fresh ideas, new submissions and another book file.
But as I sorted through, I found piles of rejections – 20 for just one article, all kept neatly filed like a forever reminder of those who did not want my words.
What kind of person keeps trying month after month and rejection upon rejection, only to be turned down again? Was I living in some kind of victim mentality? Did I really enjoy reading that phrase, “Sorry, this doesn’t fit our current needs.”
Within some of the files, I read my notes – how to improve, how to sell my words to another market. Sometimes, on the 12th or the 15th attempt – I did sell it.
Either I was amazingly persistent or somewhat crazy.
One surprising find was that even 20 years ago, I was saving research about dementia, taking notes about helping women and using “hope” as a main theme. Somewhere in my psyche, I was already laying the foundation for books about Reverend G – this character who struggles with her Alzheimer’s journey and tries to pass on hope to others.
As I read my files, I again felt the jab of pain those early rejections brought. Somehow, the dream God had placed in my heart as a child would not – could not die – even when so many editors and publishers said, “No.”
And now, forty years later, I tossed those rejections in the trash, grateful for the patience God taught me and the lessons learned.
Because I did learn, and I have improved. I’m always striving to find a better word, a more succinct phrase and a tantalizing cliff hanger.
Two hours later, I closed the now clean file cabinet and looked at my boxes of books that prove my words are now publishable.
What kind of person lives with 40 years of rejections and still keeps the dream alive?
A writer – that’s who.
©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo
Wonderful insight, Rebecca. One of favorite old saws is “Behold, the turtle, who only makes progress by sticking his neck out.” Those rejections were all part of stretching, growing, moving forward. Now, you can leave them behind and press on with confidence. Enjoy your journey!
Thanks, Jenny. Yes – the stretching has been good for me, although a bit painful at times. But the end results – new words, new phrases, new books.
Oh my! I don’t think I’ve got forty years. Better go get busy.
🙂 Love it, SuZan! And even if you don’t have 40 years, it’s always good to keep writing!
I loved that reminder and your persistence. I think I’ll take out my old articles that didn’t find a home and rework them. I know they have a message!
Thanks, Amy. Yes – one of the best things we can do as writers is to continue to send out our work as reprints. Go for it!
TWO hours later! You should receive a pitching award. Cleaning out file cabinets takes much longer for me. More power to you.
Yep! Once I get going, it doesn’t take long and then I feel so much better when it’s all done!