Don’t Feed the Bear! (An #OvercomeRejection Post)

Today begins a new series here at the blog, #OvercomeRejection. One post a week will be written by a writer who has overcome rejection in some form or another.

Today’s post is by Sarah Gingrich. Please leave a comment or ask her a question if you’d like, and feel free to email guest posts to me if you’d like to share your rejection with the world (aka my small blog readership).

It began in journals, scribbled out on car trips in rainy Chile with raucous children piping up in the background.  It dragged out, this story, my first fledgling fiction work.  It took three years of fits and starts, feasting and fasting, and then it was done.  I printed it out and held it in my hands, “Snow Dance”.  A story about faith, a story of heaven and terminal illness, a story of an unlikely friendship between an elderly mailman and a dying girl.  It was a way of expressing my deep longing for Heaven’s embrace, for the more at the end of all this.

I let a few read it, even though it felt like I was handing over a nude self-portrait.  As soon as it was back in my hands, I thrust it into a drawer, glad the whole thing was over with.  You see, I have a terrible lack of ambition, okay, I have none.  I enjoy writing, so I write.  I am satisfied; there is nothing more I need.  And perhaps, I fear that if I were actually published, my own voracious ego would squeeze the life out of my creativity.  It is a beast easily provoked.  Maybe that’s why I wave my hands wildly and my face takes on a pinched expression when someone compliments me.  I want to bat away the tempting morsel that the ego would swallow with relish.  Don’t feed the bear!  He’ll get used to it and become a nuisance!

Friends pestered, family pushed:  Submit your book!  Publish!  Publish!  Maybe I was squandering a gift, maybe I was even disobeying God.  That gave me pause.  So I submitted my work to a local publishing house, formatted just right, and then, I waited.  All the websites said to wait a year before contacting them to ask their thoughts.  I waited.  I waited.  No response.

There now, everyone would have to be satisfied; I tried, right?  I could say, “Yeah, I tried publishing, didn’t work out,” and people would leave me alone about it.  I could write freely.  Curiosity did prompt me, however, to check-in with the publisher after a year and a half had gone by.  I received this email back:

“I am filling in for an assistant editor who is away on vacation. While I don’t know the fate of your specific manuscript I can tell you that Good Books has stopped accepting children’s book manuscripts. Thank you for considering Good Books. We wish you the best as you continue writing.”

They hadn’t read it.  Did that make the rejection better or worse?

I never tried publishing again and can still summon no motivation to.  I know, I know, I barely tried!  But…I’m writing now more than ever, and, am quite, quite happy.

Sarah Gingrich lives with her husband and four children in Mountville, PA.  A former long-term missionary, she  now plants vegetables, sews patches on jeans, mothers her brood, keeps bees, and studies theology (not in that particular order).

4 Replies to “Don’t Feed the Bear! (An #OvercomeRejection Post)”

  1. Thanks, Sarah. I think there’s something freeing and wonderful about writing without any strings attached – no worries about publication or platform or acceptance. But I also think there’s something about trying to get published that trains us in the way of hope, trust, and, well, overcoming rejection.

    Whichever path you decide, I hope you continue writing and sharing with us.

  2. Thanks, Shawn! I tend to trust obscurity over publicity, but yes, hiding in the dark if/when God calls you to present your words to public scrutiny might shrivel the creativity one is trying to protect anyways. God gives gifts for use, not coddling.

  3. Thanks, Shawn, and Sarah. This was good for me to read. I don’t seem to be able to figure out whether I want to be published or not. I know that I want to write and I know a few things that I would like to accomplish with my writing, but I don’t know about that big question about publishing. It’s nice to be reminded that it’s okay to write (and maybe even call myself a writer?) even if I never publish a real book that people can buy.

    I can say with Sarah: “But…I’m writing now more than ever, and, am quite, quite happy.”
    Good perspective.
    Thanks again.

Comments are closed.