Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Feeling Rejected? Don't Be Dejected!

I didn't discover Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time until I was an adult in the early years of my spiritual awakening. It's a gem of a book, filled -- as is all her writing -- with spiritual truths for young adults and adults alike. Today, nearly two decades after that first reading, the profound wisdom of this prolific author and devout Episcopalian continues to inspire me.

One of my favorite L'Engle stories, apart from the one that follows, comes from one of her nonfiction books -- I don't now remember which. In it she describes legions of white-bearded Old Testament prophets, their faces raised to the sky, shouting up at God, incredulously: "You want me to do
what!?" There are days I know just how they felt!

I first posted a version of this piece about rejection in June 2008. But I get so many requests for it, that I've decided to make it new again by reposting it.

Feeling rejected? When you read L'Engle's story, I guarantee you
won't be dejected!

Author Madeleine L'Engle received two years' worth of rejections from 26 publishers for her novel A Wrinkle in Time, which, once it was finally published in 1962, went on to win major awards and be translated into more than a dozen languages.

Toward the end of that two-year period, L'Engle covered up her typewriter and decided to give up -- on A Wrinkle in Time and on writing. Then on her way downstairs, a revelation: an idea for a novel about failure. In a flash, she was back at the typewriter.

"That night," as she explained in April 1993 on the PBS documentary Madeleine L'Engle: Stargazer, "I wrote in my journal, 'I'm a writer. That's who I am. That's what I am. That's what I have to do -- even if I'm never, ever published again.' And I had to take seriously the fact that I might never, ever be published again. ... It's easy to say I'm a writer now, but I said it when it was hard to say. And I meant it."

Today, the bibliography on L'Engle's web site lists 62 works spanning the period from 1944 through 2005, plus a 63rd, published posthumously in 2008. Sadly, Madeleine L'Engle died in September 2007.

"I cannot possibly tell you how I came to write A Wrinkle in Time," her New York Times obituary quotes her as having said. "It was simply a book I had to write. I had no choice."

Whether you're published or not, if you're writing, you are a writer.

Need some help believing that? watch the video meditation, "You Are A Writer." The audio was drawn from The Voice of the Muse Companion: Guided Meditations for Writers.


River Jordan said...

I like this Mr. Gerson. I have a few friends who struggle sometimes with rejections. I think this may help to put it in perspective.

Thank you very much.

River Jordan said...

I like this Mr. Gerson! A few writer friends struggle with this rejection/dejection. I will share this with them.

Thank you!

Mark David Gerson said...

In the end, perspective is all anything is about!

K.B. said...

Isn't that the end-game? To write. I enjoyed this post. I also recently learned that Emily Dickenson was only able to publish a dozen of her 1800 poems in her lifetime. It's an amazing feat being a writer, and sometimes it takes the world a bit longer to catch on.

Mark David Gerson said...

@KB - Didn't know that about Emily Dickinson. Thanks for sharing that, and for your comment.