The rejections keep coming and this author keeps writing
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.