My daughter, Melissa, and I just came back from a weekend in Conroe, TX, where she was interviewed for a possible job yesterday. She is working presently, and for the most part enjoying where she is. But the new position is in a better region, pays better with better benefits.
We got there Friday afternoon and spend several hours driving around, looking at the area and more specifically, apartments. The more we looked, the more we liked. Saturday we went to church and potluck afterward, then spent the afternoon once again driving around looking at the area.
We were surprised Saturday morning at church when a friend of my daughter’s from college and her husband appeared. We soon discovered that she was interviewing for the same job. Later we found out that a third young woman was also interviewing for the same position. We asked my daughter’s friend and husband to spend Saturday afternoon with us exploring the area and had a chance to talk to them. They are presently teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in Arkansas. Although she’s been trained to teach high school English, she was teaching grades one through six, with her husband teaching upper grades and acting as principal. Then about two months ago, he began having seizures. Many doctor’s visits later and one brain surgery, he is still on disability and they still don’t know what’s wrong with him. In the meantime, we learned that the small school where they were located wasn’t rehiring them for the next school year.
Melissa and her friend got to know the third teacher prospect on Sunday morning when the interviews began. The third candidate had just lost her job as a teacher in the Rio Grande Valley. After the interview, she told us that she was going home to the Valley to pack up her things, but had no idea where she was going to move to.
On the way home, I told Melissa that in some ways I wished I hadn’t heard the stories of the other two, knowing that only one would get the job. All three needed it, but that’s not how things work. Melissa said that if she didn’t get the job, she wanted her friend from college to get it. But I knew that two people would lose out in the end.
I also mused aloud what God does when three people ask for the same thing. If he says yes to one, it means saying no to two others. It’s one of those situations when you are glad you don’t have to make the decisions that God does.
We spent most of last evening waiting for a phone call, and it came at 9 p.m. The superintendent told Melissa that he was impressed by her interview, but she didn’t get the job. Melissa was philosophical about it, but I knew she was disappointed. It would have been an opportunity for her to get a job where she wouldn’t have to depend on parental support any more. We spent some time commiserating with her about it before we went to bed.
This morning, Melissa received a text from her friend telling her that she had gotten the job. They had asked her friend not to say anything until this morning. I know that Melissa was happy for her friend, and that helped her get over the larger disappointment she felt.
What does this have to do with writing? As I tell my students, even perfectly written stories have no guarantees of getting published. There is only one reason to buy your article or story or novel, but multiple reasons why editors should say no. It could be bad timing, length, the fact that someone just wrote the same thing, or just that the person deciding is in a bad mood. Just because you receive a rejection slip doesn’t mean you should give up on writing.
Someone on Twitter recently asked me to provide them with one piece of advice. My advice to them: Believe in yourself. Don’t give up. Tenacity is probably the greatest asset a writer can have. Talent is overrated.
And so I say to Melissa and the other person who didn’t get the job yesterday: hang in there. Whether you believe in serendipity or divine plan, it will all come together for you eventually. You just have to believe in yourself and act on that belief to make yourself someone that employers–or editors–want and need.
Hang in there.