Monday, March 8, 2010

Writing Process

A few years ago, I attended the Summer Writer's Institute in Creative Nonfiction at Washington University.  It was a fabulous experience: motivational, encouraging, friendship-forming, and very educational.  In addition to being a writer of beautiful prose, Kathleen Finneran is one of the best teachers - and editors - I've ever had.

Every night, she gave the class a short writing assignment.  They were a lot of fun, but best of all was receiving feedback on my writing every single day!  "You are a natural essayist," she wrote on one of my pieces toward the end of the program.  Until she said that, I had no idea that what I was writing were personal essays.  This opened up a whole new world for me.

Recently I saw a call for submissions posted on a blog I follow.

It sparked an idea in me that I developed in the shower one morning.

Still dripping, I ran to the computer and typed up a quick draft.

Over the next few days I read the samples linked from the website and I realized that I'd gone in a different direction.

So I sat down with my essay and - over the next two drafts - cleaned up the prose, pared it back, and tweaked it to fit more with what the editor was looking for.

Then, shortly after midnight on the deadline, I submitted my essay.

I woke at 6:00 the next morning to find my rejection letter waiting for me - quickest rejection ever!

But it was a nice one, which I certainly appreciate.

It reads, in part:

Thank you for your submission for [redacted].

I enjoyed reading it, but in the end, decided not to choose it for publication.

It was one of the best submissions I received, though, and I encourage you to submit it elsewhere.
I'll take that.  And one of the most important characteristics of a writer, I'm told, is the ability to be motivated by rejection.

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