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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com
 

Surviving a Rejection Tsunami

by Roy A. Barnes
 

From March 31, 2005 to May 3, 2005, I pegged twenty-six rejections, including seven in one twenty-four hour span. During that same time frame, I garnered only one acceptance. My mentor of seven years characterized this experience as a "rejection tsunami." During this tsunami, I must admit that I experienced feelings that alternated between depression and of being emotionally clubbed over and over.

On May 4, the plot to this writing phenomenon of the worst kind took a strange twist. I have a friend who is an aspiring artist. He was to take a young lady to a benefit, but she backed out on him at the last minute, so he asked me to come along. This benefit just happened to be called, "Southeast Asia: The Hope (After the Tsunami)." Granted, the event was on behalf of the victims of the natural disaster that occurred in December 2004. Still, I decided to attend, hoping there would be a symbolic message of hope for me, given the timing of the benefit, and because of what my mentor had quipped to me days earlier.

One of the speakers, a retired professor of geology, said that tsunamis come when there is a build up of pressure in the earth. I had been submitting so many queries and completed works since the end of January (a literary build-up of pressure), that it was inevitable for me to get walloped with a litany of rejection slips and e-mails during a short time frame. But just like the name of the benefit for the tsunami victims, I've come to the conclusion that there is hope for my writing career after my first rejection tsunami. Why? Let me tell you where I was regarding my writing just one year ago.

As of the Summer of 2004, I had never made one dime from writing, other than receiving a twelve-pack of Coca Cola from a former co-worker. She ditched writing an article for the company newsletter, then asked me on short notice to compose the article instead. I was rewarded with half a case of my favorite soft drink. Up to that time, my writing career could be summed up as letters to the editors of local papers, and writing for company newsletters, none of which generated any cash for my efforts. I half-heartedly sent in one to three travel-related or literary submissions per year, using outdated writers' market books. I futilely hoped for an acceptance and a check from an editor with this approach.

It's a year later, and a lot has changed due to a number of notable milestones. I've been invited to press trips, and attended my first one while that rejection tsunami was in force. I have been paid in real money for my works. Besides acceptances of my work, some editors have given me encouragement.

My writing and editing skills are four times better than they were a year ago. I'm more adept at researching markets and following writers' guidelines. Yes, I've made dumb mistakes and there's been many let-downs, too. Still, hope resides in me because getting all those rejections meant that I'd been generating a lot of queries and submissions. With each query and submission, my writing skills have improved. The key is to persevere and let the acceptances come as they may.

Up until the middle of June 2004, I was employed full-time at a regional airline. I made decent money  and had good benefits, but I hated it. The three to four weeks a year of vacation time were all I looked forward to. The other forty-eight weeks a year were spent constantly fantasizing about the four weeks of escape from a working life of utter boredom and irritation. Yet, what I have found is that since I've gotten more serious about my writing, most days are like an adventure; and thus, I don't find myself constantly fantasizing about faraway places.

When I told my boss last year that I was resigning, he commented to me that I wouldn't find an easier job or place to work at. That was the problem: doing the easy thing just isn't fulfilling. The answer doesn't lie in walking the path the masses trample on day after day, year after year.

When people get more serious about pursuing their dreams, they often find themselves caught between the Egyptians chasing them in one direction (the unfulfilled life of bondage) while staring at the raging Red Sea of uncertainty in the other. They can't go back, but can only move forward and hope the waters will part. As for me, I won't go back to the bondage of an unfulfilling career. Maybe I will never become a famous writer nor even get to the point to where I can totally sustain myself economically with my writing. But for the last several months, I've been experiencing a great and continuous odyssey because I have chosen to follow my heart like never before!


Roy A. Barnes is a freelance writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming. His travel, writing-themed, and literary works have appeared in such print and online publications as Transitions Abroad, The First Line, Gonomad.com, The Fabulist Flash, and Bootsnall.com.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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