Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Roundtable

We love spending the bulk of the year exploring different aspects of the writing process and publishing industry, and today we want to take time to recognize what we are most thankful for.

Okay, so I'll start, and I'll begin at an unlikely spot: rejection. No one wants it - that feeling of failure and disappointment when someone calls your baby 'ugly.' You get defensive and you take it personally.But rejection can also be thought of as re-direction. The experience is more about what isn't right than what is wrong. It can determine the direction your book will take through a process of elimination until it finds the right place to land. I am grateful for the rejections that channeled my books to the homes they found and that God's intention for my story will be accomplished, even if the writing of it was for my own benefit alone.

I am especially grateful for fellow writers who challenged me to begin the writing process and to persevere over the years. For those who were brave enough to be honest and straightforward. For those generous with praise and encouragement, perhaps even in the midst of their own discouragement. For fellowship along the way, I am thankful.

Thanksgiving was last month for us eager Canadians, but I'm happy to add my cheer to the U.S. Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for change. I've gone through many changes in my adult life (bet you have too), which I found difficult, uncomfortable, tragic, sometimes terrifying, and always too frequent. But those changes brought me here. If I

hadn't changed my life I wouldn't be risking it all as a writer. I wouldn't be part of this community of writers on Novel Matters. If my life hadn't changed I would have missed out on so much today. So via la change!

I once had folders brimming with hundreds and hundreds of rejection slips. You know the old writers' threats about papering their offices with rejection slips? Well, I literally could have done it. I kept them from the time I was in high school until my mid-forties. I had a card catalogue too, with the names of magazine articles, poems, and books and kept meticulous track of to whom I submitted, what dates, and when they rejected me.

I had this fantasy that there would be a future date in which I would be so famous that people would pore over my rejection slips in some museum and be amazed at my persistence. Maybe some beginning writers would be inspired, I mused.

Where are those cards and rejection slips now? I don't know whether to be proud or ashamed to share this.

I reached a point about ten years ago when that dream of being so famous seemed idolatrous to me. It seemed self-focused to imagine anyone would care about my path to publication. So one hot August day I threw away all those rejection slips. I even threw away the hand-written first drafts (about 15 spiral-bound notebooks, as I recall) of The Mormon Mirage. To be honest, to this day I don't know if I was getting rid of an idol or depriving someone in the future from an insight into some legitimate history. I don't know if it was humility or depression that fueled that decision.

In some landfill in New Mexico, those papers from my past are gone, but for me, not forgotten.

They are a memorial in my mind, of what God has brought me through to this day.

I am grateful for my failures and what they have taught me. I am grateful for my hard-bought redemption by Jesus, for my family and faithful friends, for a church that has put up with me for 38 years, for incredible material blessings, for readers and last of all for Bonnie, Debbie, Katy, Patti and Sharon.

Somehow my part of this post disappeared overnight, so I'll try again. I'm extremely grateful this Thanksgiving season for my husband, our family, and a loving God who has taken good care of us through a very difficult year. But in regards to my writing life, I'm so very thankful for you: my NovelMatters sisters, who strengthen and encourage me, who keep me going when discouragement would easily set in. And you: who visit our blog and add to our discussions through your thoughtful and stirring comments. I pray your dreams come through as you continue to use the gifts and talents God has given you. I pray you all have a blessed Thanksgiving.


Wendy Paine Miller said...

Grateful for my faith being pushed to a new place--a deeper place.

Grateful for loved ones and for a new idea tickling the inside my brain.

Grateful for you ladies and how you educate with humility and encouragement (in the true sense of the word)!

Happy Thanksgiving!
~ Wendy

Jan Cline said...

Im also thankful for you gals and all the wisdom you have shared with us this year.

Im grateful for God for rescuing me and giving me a love for writing.

Have a blessed holiday!

Ellen Staley said...

I'm very thankful for the wonderful posts you each create and the opportunity you provided to undergo an awe inspiring edit. Thank you, Bonnie, for your patience.

I'm thankful for our mighty God who took matters into His own hands to provide the way of salvation, that none of us should be lost.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Lori Benton said...

I'm thankful that His mercy endures forever. Psalm 136

Thankful for each of you ladies and the profound impact you've had on my writing life.

And Debbie... "I am grateful for the rejections that channeled my books to the homes they found and that God's intention for my story will be accomplished, even if the writing of it was for my own benefit alone." This is a mindset I've tried to maintain too, especially in the last couple of years. I'm thankful for the doors He has closed, keeping me from whatever less-than-His-best waited behind them.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

I am grateful for the loving support I have received as I authentically wend my way through a grieving season. Sometimes.... Most of the time my grief frightens. I want to experience it fully, deeply and perhaps write more closely to the heart of God. To the few who don't back down, I say thanks!