by Nancy Scott
From the Editor: When I was a younger man, when getting a job was very much on my mind, and when I was looking to the National Federation of the Blind to assure me I could find one, I remember hearing how the very successful people I met had had to apply for fifty or a hundred jobs before landing one. Sometimes it was the job they had longed to get, and sometimes it was a stepping-stone on the path to what they really wanted, but each and every one of them encouraged me and gave me confidence to keep believing and keep on trying.
Nancy Scott is a writer trying to get more of her material published. Some of our members are writers. Some pursue different occupations and avocations but sit down to write so the Monitor has something to offer both people who want to know more about blindness and people determined to change what it means to be blind. Here is what Nancy Scott has to say about the heartbreak of rejection, the way to get beyond it, and the value of persistence, whether it is getting an essay accepted or a piece of legislation enacted.
“Why do I bother writing?” I ask myself for what feels like the fiftieth time this year. My two submitted essays that I'd most hoped for were just rejected, both in the same week. Tin House and Creative Nonfiction chose not to publish, though my piece for Creative Nonfiction made it to the top twenty. (Close counts only with hand grenades and horseshoes.)
No one is calling. I just got over a fierce but short cold. My apartment neighbors all have strange people living with them, and most of them smoke. I'm feeling fragile and bereft and untalented and melodramatic. But I've been writing for thirty years, and I know the drill. I must send both essays out again, and I should simultaneously submit them. That way any one rejection is only one rejection. (Of course maybe no one will consider them because they're traipsing all over the place.)
I know editors are rejecting my work and not me, but I really wanted at least one of these essays to make it. And the biggest fear for a moderately-published author is that she might be only a mediocre writer. I must banish this “mediocre” mantra. In writing as in blindness we need action and the will to find that action. So what do I do? I listen to part of an issue of Poets & Writers on NFB-NEWSLINE®. I have done this often, though this intervention feels more serious. I am battling a real lack of energy, and writing is energy on a page.
It works almost instantly. One author talks about his “great death.” He gave up writing in his 50s. He went back to it and wrote a successful novel that was published when he was 65. And he has a disability. I also hear MFA [master of fine arts] alternatives and lists of prominent authors who don't have the magic letters after their names. The very good synthetic voice reads lots of written words about writing practice, writing myths, and writing community. (There's even one author who pretended to be blind when he was a kid.)
Many like-minded writers are doing what I'm doing. They struggle and fail and succeed. They lose their way and find their way. The best advice is “You never know when you'll do your best writing, so write a lot.” Yes! That is the power of one necessary phrase. And it's just as true for advocacy. Like-minded communities are often helpful. Setbacks can feel permanent. And, if we're not careful, they can become permanent. A community of people dealing with the same thing can advise and motivate.
Maybe I'll achieve some necessary phrases. Maybe I already have, but no one will know unless I send them to many editors. Maybe my writing achievements will help show what a blind person can do. I will check out Poets & Writers' long marketing section.
I like many other things featured on NEWSLINE: Air and Space Magazine, Matilda Ziegler, TV listings, and UPI Business and Science, just to name a few. But, when I question my calling, Poets & Writers is more important than anything else. I always find something in every issue I read. I bet the people who decided to include it needed pep talks and markets too. This is why we have one another; this is why I am a part of and contribute to the National Federation of the Blind. Working together, trying together, there is no doubt we will succeed.
Sidebar: For information on becoming a subscriber to NFB-NEWSLINE®, call (866) 504-7300 or go to www.nfbnewsline.org.