JOHN F. KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY / AP (The birth certificate and family photograph of Ernest Hemingway from a scrapbook created by his mother, Grace Hall Hemingway.)
Long before “scrapbooking” was a verb, mothers were collecting memories about their children and their achievements in volumes for posterity. Fortunately for both fans and scholars of Ernest Hemingway, his mother, Grace, was one of these women who kept meticulous journals of her now-famous (and infamous) son.
This week, in honor of what would have been the iconic American author’s 114th birthday, July 21, 1899, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston has made available to the public the digitized journals. There are a total of five volumes and all can now be viewed online here.
For scholars, this is particularly exciting news as the majority of the collection has never been available and only a few fortunate researchers have seen it at all. Prior to their digitization, the leather books were kept in a dark vault to prevent them from crumbling and otherwise becoming damaged.
Why is dad so sad? Probably because he just checked his mail and found his self-addressed stamped envelope in his box, his manuscript inside, and the dreaded form letter saying, “We are sorry, but your manuscript does not currently meet our specific needs.” The first dozen or so times, Dad wanted to believe the closing line promising to review his work in the future but…
Dr. Seuss (aka Theodore Geisel) knew the feeling. His now-classic children’s book And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street was rejected a whopping twenty-seven times before it was finally accepted by Vanguard Press. This may be your fate as well.
Putting your work out in the world is scary. Rejection sucks. It can make you afraid to do it again. But you have to try. Because the twenty-seventh or twenty-eighth time might just be the one.
Novelist Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees) offers this advice to writers feeling wounded: ”This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.”
To give you hope, here are ten rejections of famous writers as well as a some of their reactions and advice about coping with rejection:
(Orson Scott Card poses at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, in 2008. Wikimedia Commons/ Nihonjoe)
There is a reason I frequently shy away from reading biographies: people suck. Even the best people suck. If you want to go on admiring someone, don’t know them personally. The art, of course, speaks for itself. It need not be burdened by the shortcomings of its creator. But (at least for me) it is difficult to separate the two once you know. You cannot, as the saying goes, unsee something.
Today, a lot of people, including myself, were surprised to learn that beloved science fiction writer Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game) is an anti-gay activist, and has been for a very long time. In 2008, he wrote that “marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down.” Responding to the Supreme Court decision on the topic of gay marriage, Card told Entertainment Weekly ”it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.”
Hmmmm…. interesting that someone who is against tolerance wants to see how people with tolerance respond….
I could go on.
Here are ten great lines from literature that just might help you get lucky, too.
1. “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.”
- From The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Oh yes, there you are, with your party hat on.
What with the recent NSA scandal, George Orwell’s dystopian caution that “Big Brother is watching you” has never seemed so relevant. In fact, sales of 1984 skyrocketed just after news broke that the US government was tapping into your average Verizon member’s mundane phone calls. So, how better to celebrate Orwell’s birthday this week than by a subtle nod to the constant gaze of the Party–complete with party hats?
Such was the idea of the Dutch artist duo Thomas Voor’t Hekke and Bas van Oerle (known collectively as “FRONT 404″). Their simple concept was to decorate the ubiquitous security cameras of Utrecht with eye-catching birthday hats.