Sunday, October 13, 2013

The serendipity of life

   "The brain is wider than the sky."
   Emily Dickinson

   Less than a month ago I wrote a post to express how much I appreciate and enjoy Alice Munro's writing, and I reviewed her latest book, "Dear Life." Three weeks later, she won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
  I've heard many times that short stories are not popular. Alice Munro is a short story writer.
  I've heard many times that people don't care for poetry. I recently wrote a post called "For Poetry Lovers... and those who don't care about poetry." In less than two weeks it had more than 400 views... and it continues to be a very popular post.
   A month ago politicians were planning to close one of the libraries in the town where I live. We spoke up to protect our public library. Then politicians decided that it would not be a good idea to close the library.
  Let's talk about literary rejections.
  The editor of Boston's Atlantic magazine told Louisa May Alcott's father that "she should stick to teaching because she would never succeed as a writer."
  Yesterday I went to the theater to watch Little Women. Interestingly, the play started  with Jo reading a rejection letter.
 It was a delightful experience  to revisit this novel, a book that must have shaped me in many ways. Watching this play awakened memories from my childhood. I must have read it when I was 12. I remember how "Little Women" ignited my passion for writing. (I felt identified with Jo's personality).

 Rudyard Kipling was told  that he did not know how to use the English Language.

 Richard Bach was told that nobody would care about the life of a seagull. After 18 rejections, his book was accepted for publication and sold one million copies.

Gertrude Stein spent 22 years submitting before getting a single poem accepted.

  Emily Dickinson was told that her poems were "devoid of true poetical qualities."

 Stephen King received dozens of rejections for "Carrie" before it was published and made into a movie.

 Don't pay too much attention to the naysayers. Keep doing what your heart tells you to do. I believe it is worthwhile.
  Don't let the naysayers shatter your enthusiasm and silence the voice of your heart. Don't allow their contempt to distort your views and motivations.
  The light of your dreams is the light that matters, the one that casts hope on the uncertainty of your life. Mistakes are inevitable. We all make them, but we don't need to let them hinder our actions.
 Naysayers don't always criticize us. They just make us feel that what we are doing is worthless or irrelevant. It is important to remember that their disdain is none of our business.
 My grandmother used to say that white butterflies presage good news. I'm not superstitious, but every time I see butterflies drawing silhouettes in the air I feel happy.
   Butterflies brighten my day, no matter what color they are...



  1. To a caterpillar wound up tight inside a cocoon, it must seem like the end of the world, when it's actually about to be the beginning of something much more beautiful. We may have to put up with the ugly caterpillar and cocoon stages of rejection and nay-saying, but with patience and determination, we can get our butterfly wings.

    1. We are butterflies already. Thanks, Susan.
      We don't need anything, just the gift of our imagination.

  2. Just what I needed to read today. I think I shall keep a weather eye out for white butterflies now. Thanks.

    1. That's good to hear.
      Yes, you will find them. I've seen lots of them lately.

  3. HI Julia - after your post ... I at least knew of Alice Munro!! Thank you ... and so pleased she's been recognised.

    To think if our literary world had listened to naysayers .. we'd be so bereft of wonderful, inspiring works ...

    I love the idea of your white butterflies .. I just get delighted seeing them around ... cheers Hilary

    1. Thanks, Hilary.
      I think there is no time to pay much attention to naysayers anyway.
      Enjoy the ride.

  4. I was pleasantly surprised this morning when on of my French students whom I had asked to read a text about the new nobel laureate had actually heard of Alice Munro, as so far of eight other well read French students, none had. And 50% of French fiction is translated, so while we might assume it unsurprising that much of the English reading world had never heard of Jean-Marie Gustave Le Cl├ęzio the French writer who won the Nobel Prize in 2008, there is much greater chance that French readers might have heard of Alice Munro.

    In another serendipitious connection, my student had been at a conference for statiticians in Paris and the lecturer had referred to a story written by Alice Munro Too Much Happiness, which she as an avid reader had looked up just before receiving my email with the news article she was to read inside.

    Happy to know that many more people will be reading short stories and specifically Alice Munro's stories.

    And regarding poetry, it is the blogs where poets reside that seem to me to have the largest following and support, there is indeed a hunger for the soothing balm of poetry or the acknowledged insight accompanying suffering or the wonder of the light on a leaf, I am not at all surprised to hear your post attracted so many readers. Poets are realising they are not alone! :)

    1. I would like to read something by Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio now.
      You are right about poetry. The planet is in need of poetry.
      Thank you for your thought-provoking comment, Claire.

  5. Hi Julia,

    I actually prefer short stories. It's also why I often write short postings. Indeed, I'm delighted for Alice Munro and she does inspire.

    As for the naysayers, I reckon a number of them are envious and don't like to see others have success. Or for that matter, satisfaction in the writing, the poetry, they do.

    Incidentally, I might have mentioned this before, however, Rudyard Lake is about two miles from my home. His parents loved the location so much that they named him after the lake. True story.

    In regards to politics, you know of your outrage at politicians contemplating closing the library. The British government is trying to close several libraries over here. Now you understand a shared outrage.

    Thank you, Julia.


    1. Thank you for your insightful comment, Gary.
      Yes, I do understand my friend.
      Libraries are community treasures, the wellspring of inspiration, the sources of education, socialization and cultural events.
      I hope people will speak up in Great Britain as well.

  6. Hi Julia,

    I don't know Alice Munro's work at all. I guess the time has come.

    1. I hope you will find something you like. I think she wrote fourteen books of short stories.

  7. The only writers I've come across who've not had rejections are the ones who haven't yet submitted anything.

    1. Your comment made me smile.
      I agree with you. Thanks, Patsy.

  8. I've always been a fan of short stories. Like everything else, the different styles of writing seem to rise and fall in popularity. I'm happy short stories and poetry are on the upward swing. You know how to pick the winners. :)
    In a government dominated world, sadly the books are always the first to go.

    1. There are different kinds of stories, yes.
      As I said earlier, we can all make a difference.
      Thank you for your comment, Manzanita.

  9. I totally have Dear Life in my grubby little hands and I can't wait to read it!! Yay!!!

    Awwwww I love the idea of butterflies as signs of good news!! May you always see these little beauties, Julia! Take care

    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Old Kitty!
      Enjoy your book now.

  10. Writers without rejections are not writers. If you could hit a home run on every trip to the plate, there would be no game.

  11. Yes, of course.
    Rejections are a part of our lives.

  12. Another brilliant and encouraging post Julia. Sometimes it feels like you're swimming against the tide but if you stay in there, you'll eventually get to the other side. As long as you enjoy doing something then why not keep doing it.

    They say that 'one man's meat is another man's poison'. Sometimes others want us to do what they would do or what they feel we should or shouldn't be going but life doesn't always work out that way.

    1. Yes, people sometimes have their own ideas about what we should do with our lives.
      You know what I mean. I appreciate your comment.


I appreciate each and every comment. Thank you.