January 18, 2015

The Five Senses

My daughter attends Wake Forest.  One of the many nice perks for parents is receiving an email called The Daily Deac.  Betsy Chapman writes every day about activities on campus, updates on construction projects, and opportunities and special events for students.  She offers reflections and questions for conversations with our Deacs. 

One of my favorite posts is called the “Five senses.”  In these posts, Betsy describes what she is experiencing on campus.  With distance separating us from our scholars, this post helps parents to connect with what our students may be sensing, too. 

I like this post so much, that once a month I plan to add my version to Children’s Writer’s World. Dear readers, here are the five senses from my desk in front of a window as I sit down to write.

I smell: 
—my husband’s lunch of spaghetti and marinara sauce   

I hear:
—the mail truck’s engine rumbling  
—the microwave humming 
—silverware clinking on a plate
—Ollie meowing for food

I taste
—Seattle’s Best dark roast coffee sweetened with a bit of sugar

I feel
—the warmth of my coffee mug
—the smooth surface of the desk 

I see: 
—an oak tree with curled brown leaves waving in the breeze 
—the blue sky warm with sunshine and streaked with veils of clouds  
—a man bundled up and jogging down the sidewalk with a dog

January 10, 2015

Never Give Up

Do rejections make you want to give up on writing?  A lot of writers feel this way from time to time.  When you have spent hours on a writing project, you are hoping for an acceptance.  But when that rejection note comes along, you may find yourself wanting to throw in the towel. 

Although rejections are part of writing/publishing process, sometimes they frustrate and discourage me.  I get downright grouchy about rejection (just ask my husband). 

Some rejections are harder to take than others.  For example, I can’t figure out why one Midwestern educational publisher keeps rejecting my work. Their guidelines state to submit a description of an article in one to two paragraphs.  Since reprints and multiple submissions are permitted, I submitted descriptions of three articles that had been published in respectable magazines.  These pieces have been used as testing passages and in books to improve students’ reading skills.  And yet, all three of the articles were declined.

Despite the rejection, I submitted again to this publisher.  And, more “no thank you” emails came my way.  But this time, the rejection note included a message:  “Your writing was strong and engaging and very close to what we're looking for.”  They even sent examples of the kinds of articles they had published.

So what would you do?  Would you give up or try again?  For weeks, I put off approaching this publisher because I didn't want to set myself up for another rejection. But, I decided to submit once more because this editor appeared genuinely interested in my work.

Striving (and hoping) to earn an acceptance, I worked on improving my next group of submissions by creating a stronger hook for each article, by making sure that the topic idea was not too broad, and by providing intriguing details that had been discovered through research.  

Perhaps, the editor will be interested in this new set of articles.  And then again, another rejection could come my way.  But if that happens, I will have to find another way to crack this market. Giving up is never an option.