I read this story recently in Poets & Writers. It may be a parable about stick-to-it-iveness, or perhaps it’s an invitation to apply the vision of hindsight to our current ambitions. Bear with me.
Daniel Wallace, the author of six novels including a New York Times bestseller, has tried for more than thirty years to publish in The New Yorker. When he first began submitting work there in 1984, The New Yorker defined literary success for him. His stories landed on the desk of the fiction editor, Daniel Menacer, who eventually began jotting “a little something” on the rejected pages. “I had no idea who this person was,” Wallace writes, “and it didn’t really matter because at that time in my life, editors were all-powerful demigods whose approval would allow me entry into the world I hungrily watched from afar.” Over the first six years, Menaker’s rejections grew personal and encouraging. One story he even called “very good…as far as it goes.” He actually invited Wallace to continue submitting. Writers call such comments “good rejections.” Continue reading
Today I’m appreciating Marty, a student and client of mine, perhaps because I’m only now digesting an important lesson he taught me.
Marty was born in Wyoming to a conservative Christian household in a virulently Christian community. When he came out gay, his pastor tried to straighten him out with intensive reprogramming. Because Marty was a lawyer and voracious reader, this involved years of in-depth theological study and long, difficult conversations.
Marty was also a raging alcoholic, and one day after coming out of a bar in Atlantic City he was gay-bashed almost to death. I met Marty years later, after he’d sobered up, left his law practice, recovered his faith, and begun a memoir. Being bludgeoned in the head with concrete, he’d realized, was a cakewalk compared with the theological abuse he’d suffered from this pastor and community. He wanted to write the story. Continue reading