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The rejections keep coming and this author keeps writing

In the past year, fiction writer Diane Lederman has received dozens of rejection letters.
In the past year, fiction writer Diane Lederman has received dozens of rejection letters.

In the last year, I’ve been rejected about four dozen times. An amalgam of agents, literary magazines and contests said no — and that’s not counting the rebuffs by silence: The ones where agents warn that they get so many letters and queries they only respond to ones they’re interested in.

I don’t mind. Well, that’s not completely true. Each time I open an email,  I get a little ping, a tiny voice reminding me the work is not good enough. I would like to see my writing in journals or, dare I hope, a book, so I can feel like a “real writer.”

I've had stories accepted three times (for a baseball player, that’s pathetic). But despite the rebuffs, I’m happy. I remind myself that I am a real writer, because I’m writing. Since retiring from my journalism career, I’m doing what I've always wanted to do. Every day.

Some say spending hours in a room listening to people who don't technically exist is a) nutty, b) a foolish use of time, or c) both.

But when writing fiction, I am alive. It’s a free graduate school on life. I don’t write about what I know; I write about what I want to know, and what my characters tell me I need to know to understand them.

For example, the hero of my first novel loved opera. Opera of all things! I was a rock and roll, jazz-loving folkie and hated opera. But through Saul Stein’s eyes, I fell passionately for Puccini.

And since one of my characters in my second novel played piano, I started lessons again so I could understand things like counterpoint. Greta Gorin has way more talent than I do.

My 40-year reporting career was edifying, but I learned what my job dictated: budgets, bylaws and business.

Now I explore where my people take me. And despite the cascade of rejections, I’m here. And I’ll be ready for those magic words: “We would like to accept.”

Commentator Diane Lederman, a former reporter for The Republican newspaper, lives in Hadley, Massachusetts.

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