On Rejection, Drama-Free Writing, and Gilligan

“Publishing doesn’t change your life or
make it easier to write.” ~ Heather Sellers

I just finished reading Page after Page, by Heather Sellers, and while I’m going to wait to post a full review, today I want to share a passage from the latter part of the book. Heather writes that, on average, each piece she publishes is revised seventeen (yes, seventeen) times and submitted ten times:

“[W]hen a story or poem or essay comes back to me, which, obviously, it does rather frequently (about four months after submission, on average), several things occur. First of all, I am eager for the story to come back so I can send it out again, and get to my ten times. Second, I feel like a real writer. Third, I enjoy even more (it’s akin to watching Survivor) the magazine’s next issues—who did they choose? Often, writers I like a lot. Fourth, after enough time passes, I begin to see the piece differently. (If you are doing the math, you can see the whole endeavor takes years, potentially, for just one piece—again, this is why we are writing every day). And revision isn’t a chore. I’m excited to have a new way into the piece.”

She calls this her “drama-free” approach to writing. No complaining. No whining. Very little second guessing. Continual submissions. And, always, writing. Every day.

When I first started freelancing, I read somewhere that writers who say they make a living from their writing receive 12 to 14 rejections for every acceptance. Regardless of whether it is true (and I tend to believe it is), that statistic kept me going at the beginning. Perhaps the writers who make it in the end are the ones who simply do not give up. And whether you give up (or not) is something entirely within your control.

A wonderful example of this perspective in action is Kelsey Ketch, who, as we learned last month, submitted 199 agent queries before landing an agent for her historical young adult novel, Death’s Island. You can now read more about Kelsey’s work, submission process, persistence, and marvelous attitude toward writing in an interview on “The Punching Bag Fights Back” blog. Kelsey began writing Death’s Island while still in high school, but her writing wisdom and work ethic far surpass her years:

“Before querying, I went through four drafts. I had Death’s Island printed and bound each time. Then I would read the book cover to cover out loud to make sure all my i’s were dotted and all my t’s were crossed. Even so, as I was writing Death’s Island, I was continuously going back to individual chapters. Editing, re-writing, or even cutting them out completely.”

So, where does Gilligan fit into all of this?

Kelsey’s latest blog post is about staying young as a way to enhance creativity (and to reward the hard work of revising). She asks, “What brings you back to your childhood days?” This morning, her question brought back memories of favorite television shows. Does anyone else remember these?


Gilligan as Hamlet: “To be or not to be”:



The Captain as Polonius: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”:



Captain Kangaroo Show Opening:



Bewitched Show Opening:



Goodbye, July!

Did you write today?


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