Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rejection, Voice and Ten Thousand Years

I received a rejection letter for a short story. It did NOT look like this:

Most honorable Sir,
We perused your MS,
with boundless delight. And
we hurry to swear by our ancestors
we have never read any other
that equals its mastery.
Were we to publish your work,
we could never presume again on
our public and name
to print books of a standard
not up to yours.
For we cannot imagine
that the next ten thousand years
will offer its ectype.
We must therefore refuse
your work that shines as it were in the sky
and beg you a thousand times
to pardon fault
which impairs but our own offices.

Rejection letter from Chinese publisher, from Louis Zukofsky’s “A”

Ah, they just don’t write ‘em like they used to.
I submitted a short story to an unnamed publisher and the letter I received, (well it was an email) started with “Dear Author” –which I thought was really cool until I came across the “Most honorable” bit.
I won’t quote the whole letter here, just the one line that cut to the chase:  “Although we did not offer to publish your manuscript, we encourage you in your endeavors to get it published. . .”
See how they quickly followed their rejection with encouragement? Nice, hunh?
I was feeling pretty good and read through to the end and then read near the bottom of the page:
“This is an automated message. Please do not reply to this email.”

There you have it. A punch line disguised as a rejection letter.
I had a good laugh. Hey, I’ll take all the encouragement I can get, generic or otherwise.

Which brings me to voice.
Have you heard the ad campaign, (don’t ask me which one because I really do not pay close enough attention to the tv when its on) “Find your voice and use it?” Don’t know what they are advertising, but I may be putting that with my other writing mottos –I can do that, right? Anyway, my point about voice is that when we find it, we can withstand the rejection. Have you seen the movie (or read the book) The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio? Based on a true story of a 1950’s housewife with an unhappy, alcoholic husband and lots of kids, she enters jingle contests and wins lots of prizes and *spoiler alert* ultimately enough money to pay the 2 mortgages on their house. Of course she finds a little contesting group who support each other in entering the contests. It’s been years since I’ve seen this movie, but somewhere in the beginning, the wife is narrating and says something to this effect – about her abusive husband, “don’t blame him, he lost his voice, but I found mine.” Finding her voice, writing and pursuing her dream, allowed her to withstand the difficulties she faced raising lots of kids with little resources or support from her husband. (At least in the movie version, we find out after he dies, he had put all his pension checks in an account for his wife.)

Whatever it is in your writing journey, rejection letters, brick walls, crashed computers, crying kids, you know, not enough chocolate: KEEP WRITING. Find your voice and use it. For your sake, and mine and all the lives you will touch with your writing.

You never know. Yours just might be the writing that “the next ten thousand years will not offer its ectype” And yes. I looked that up. It means: A copy from an original, an imitation or reproduction.  Happy writing!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan Thoughts

The people of Japan have been in my thoughts and prayers these past few days. The shock has given way to sadness and even dread with the ongoing nuclear crisis. I saw a report last night that highlighted the orderliness and great calm the Japanese people have demonstrated, even distributing supplies evenly among themselves when they came upon shortages. Not exactly what we see here.

I remembered a short poem I wrote after the Tsunami in December of 2005.
I realize I may not have any shirts made in Japan, but I think the sentiment is similar.


India and Thailand with ocean shores
So far from my dry desert home
If I hadn’t heard the news reports of you
I wouldn’t have known
I couldn’t have known, or believed
How many lives you lost
To waves travelling at jet-plane speeds
My desert life goes on uninterrupted
No un-channeled water here.

Until I pull the iron out to press some laundry and
Open the collar of the clean white shirt
And there on the tag are those oft ignored words
Made in Sri Lanka

While the iron steams in my motionless hand
All I can think is that this someone made this shirt across that ocean
And I wonder amid the news-report scenes of destruction
Replaying in my mind
Is the factory is still there? Are the people still alive?
Do they still have a home?
And with as little warning as Mother Nature gives
One drop, then two, and
I am taken over by a wave of tears in the desert.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sharing the Love. . .

Blog style.
This is me letting you know about my friend's cool new blog on marriage.
If you are married, know someone who is, or want to be someday --check it out.
It's called Making Marriage Merry and who wouldn't want to do that?
(That's a rhetorical question!)
Click on the little linky-do and it will take you right there. How easy is that?

Cherene's Blog

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Top Ten Reasons To Attend a Writer’s Conference

10. The stylish name-tags. Okay, kidding.

 9. The food. Still kidding.

 8. Meeting internet writing friends (people look different in 3-D than 2-D).

 7. The chance to listen to famous authors, published authors (not always the same thing) and lots of other experienced people in the writing and publishing industry.

 6. Sit at a table with total strangers and talk about genres, word count, writing methods and hooks.

 5. Attend workshops and learn I’ve written a few things right.

 4. Attend workshops and find out I’ve written a few things that will need to be burned.

 3. Have total strangers ask, “What do you write?”

 2. Have an agent or editor ask, “What do you write?”

And the  # 1 reason to attend a writer’s conference is having confirmed to you the universal truth :
Writing is the coolest, most awesome job/hobby/obsession in the world!

I get carried away, but how could I not after attending the fabulous ANWA conference? If you were there, you know what I mean. If you weren't there -(well why not?) mark your calendar for next year!


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