My recent blog about rejections drew so many responses I realize that being rejected is a common and demoralizing trauma. For those who didn’t see the blog, I wrote about being in a seemingly unending slump, where the stories I submitted to editors were reaping a monotonous chorus of “No.” It helped my morale to vent about how normal this is for writers and how many famous authors have suffered countless rejections.
But life is ironic. Less than an hour after I’d posted my rejections blog, I had an acceptance! The seemingly unending drought had ended – at least for the time being.
I’m writing this sequel for several reasons. One, obviously, is to encourage all of you not to give up whatever it is you’re reaching for. If you hold on long enough, the weather might change. However, my second purpose is to point out that persistence isn’t the total answer. Very often what’s called for is flexibility.
So let me take you on a journey about my oft-rejected piece. It tells the true story of one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever had. My husband had died three years earlier. I had promised him that I’d make the trip to Italy we had expected to have together. I set out with enormous trepidation since I’d never traveled anywhere alone and it would be my first time in Italy. In some crazy show of bravado I arranged to go totally on my own, not even as part of a tour group. By a lucky (?) coincidence a friend was going to Italy at the same time with his girlfriend and he invited me to join them. Since their itinerary was different from my plans, this meant missing Florence. But I figured companionship was worth everything.
Or was it? The story I later wrote about this trip revolved around the choice I had to make when, after the first few days, I realized that for a variety of reasons this was no longer my trip. It was theirs. The decision about whether to cling to them or go alone to a strange city where I didn’t know a soul was agonizing.
I wrote about this as a short story – and it was turned down 29 times. For a few years it languished in my files, until I decided that sometimes you have to be willing to try a new approach. Since my story was true, why not forget the fiction category and submit it as what’s termed “Creative Nonfiction”? (As opposed to Uncreative…?) Again, it was turned down – several times.
It then occurred to me that I could look further afield. Acceptance finally came from a British publication. This highlights another way of not giving up. Sometimes a rejected story finds a home overseas or in hospitable Canada.
What we all need is skin that isn’t too thin, the strength to keep persisting, and the willingness to approach any problem from a totally different angle. This isn’t just true for writing of course. Persistence and flexibility are necessary ingredients for job-hunting, love affairs, troubled friendships, attempts to communicate with your teenager, ad infinitum. But that’s for another blog,
BOOKS: COME and GO – available through BookBaby.com, WIDOW’S WALK –iUniverse.com; TURNING TOWARD TOMORROW –Xlibris.com, TEN WOMEN OF VALOR and ROLE PLAY- available through Amazon.com; also Amazon Kindle.