Monday, October 19, 2009

Rejected and Renewed - Belec

Years ago an editor gave me some (free) wise counsel - "Cut it down by half and leave nothing out." At first, I was mortified, because a rejection letter accompanied this sage piece of advice. I didn't realize back then that a handwritten note from an editor was encouraging.

After I dabbed the tear-stained note, I glanced again at the clever words that would stick with me forever. I thought about what they really meant. Remove the fluff. Dispose of the verbosity and keep it simple smart-girl. So I did. I tried. I even sent off another manuscript to the wise editor. I heeded her advice and she repaid me in kind – I gave her a nice tight manuscript and she gave me a nice fat $350 cheque.

That was in the mid 80's. But I’ve never forgotten those wise words. Reducing wordiness has helped me in so many areas of my writing. Writing devotional material is a great way to practice writing tight. The template is there and the guidelines are unbending.

When writing picture books for children or short stories in periodicals or Sunday School take home papers, I have discovered the importance of making every single word count. My rule is – if it doesn’t impact the story – then it gets tossed. Even when I am writing books for older children, I try to make sure that I don’t overdo it with fluffy, stuffy descriptions and I try to make sure I get to the point.

I don't always get it right and I still get those dejecting rejections. But I keep on doing what I love because I have an addiction to 26 assorted letters. God has poked me in some interesting directions over the years and I know that rejections are not any dastardly plan of His created to ridicule my writing ability or lack thereof.

When I really get feeling sorry for myself, (like yesterday when I reached into my mailbox and pulled out an old familiar manilla proposal / rejection letter holder from that dear editor who seemed to really, really love my idea and seemed so eager to read my work and write up that big ol' contract...) I think of Jesus.

Jesus' words contained no fluff, no effervescent effusiveness or the like. He got right to the point without mincing words or worrying about how to please everyone. He spoke from the heart and touched hearts. Yet he faced rejection after rejection. People misunderstood Him; they thought Him a traitor, a liar, a barbarian set on disrupting religion. Eventually his rejection led Him to Golgotha where the timbers mocked and beckoned. But the Good News is He did not die in vain. Renewal came in the morning. He rose again and the rest, as they say, is His Story!

So instead of whining about that nasty, drooling manilla creature sitting in my 'get it out of the office as quickly as you can' basket, and bemoaning the fate of my previously appreciated manuscript - I will think of Jesus. I will ponder what He endured and how He gave it all for the likes of me. I will be encouraged and remember that God's plans are not always what I think they should be. And I will measure my rejection against the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made. Then I will get back into the saddle and wait - for God.


Peter Black said...

Ouch! Ouch! & Triple ouch!
Thank you for this face-creasing, smile-inducing piece of wisdom (verbosity -- there I go again). Yep, I'm slow to learn the simple lesson you share, but am working on it.

Eleanor Shepherd said...

What you say is so true. We seem to have to get it all out in order to be able to crystalize the half that really says what we want to say. It is a problem that I relate to well.

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