My life has changed dramatically since I returned on March 21 from Ragdale, a writer-in-residence retreat in Lake Forest, IL. I’m a writer now. I’ve got no problem saying it, writing it, filling it in the occupation blank on forms. Those 18 days surrounded by other writers and artists transformed me from a tentative wannabe into a determined published author and writer.
All my life my mom told me I was destined to write the Great American Novel. Not too much pressure. When I was probably 6 or 7, my cousin pulled from her bookshelf a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, and I was hooked.
After a million more books and sitting in more classrooms than your average nerd, I learned fiction isn’t my thing, so I’m not on the line for the Great American Novel catch. I write essays, or what’s known nowadays as creative nonfiction. They just moved the deadline out a month so I won’t find out until September if I’ve been accepted into the University of Chicago’s Writer’s Studio. That would be two more years of classes, 24 months of nirvana. I have everything crossed.
I’ve written several essays and sent two to dozens and dozens of publications. I’m learning how to deal with rejection letters. Remarkably, however, both were picked up at More magazine.
The first one was called “Connections,” but the editor changed the title to “What Needlecraft Gives Me.” They could have called it “This Writer Sucks” and I’d still be thrilled―a published writer! It can be seen at http://www.more.com/print/438749. Forty one days later, they picked up my other essay, which was laying on slush piles all over the country. “A Picture Bigger Than Life” is at http://www.more.com/member-voices/your-stories/picture-bigger-life.
Now I’m working on a compilation of essays for a book I hope provides me the opportunity to read rejection letters from a whole new audience: agents. The Writer’s Studio would be The. Perfect. Place. to complete it. In your second year you work with a professor to write your final project: a 250-page creation.
But I’ll survive if U of C rejects my first attempt at the program. In fact, I may then just write those 250 pages in a single year, get an editor, then read rejection letters from agents. And that’s okay. I’m a writer now. Rejection comes with the job description. And so does one the most rewarding career-sided emotions when that one out of 100 letters/texts comes back saying “accepted for publication.”
And who knows. One of these days someone may even pay me for my own words 🙂