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Morning Sun
  • OKIE IN EXILE: Writing as a means of building character

  • Wait until you are away from the breakfast table to read the next paragraph.  Please, just do as I say. You will thank me later. Okay.

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  • Wait until you are away from the breakfast table to read the next paragraph.  Please, just do as I say. You will thank me later. Okay.
    I sat down last week to write my column and noticed there was something sticking to the keys with what looked like bits are partially digested cat food in it.  There was a similarly constituted but much larger pile on the floor by my chair.
    Yes, it was cat puke.  
    We figure it was Stars.  Stars is getting old.  She is at least one year older than our 14-year-old daughter. Stars turned up about the time the 14-year-old (the baby!) was born and she considers the 14-year-old to be her kitten.
    We can forgive a little puke over qwerty with that kind of relationship.
    My real worry is that Stars was criticizing my writing, because I would care about her opinion. She’s seen me -- seen all of us — at our best and at our worst and so her opinion matters to me.
    I began writing this column a bit over ten years ago. I took a trip to Russia in June of 2000; in August of that year I wrote it up; and in the summer of 2001, the Morning Sun ran it.  In the winter of that year, Kim Clark, a friend of ours from church, asked me why I didn’t write some more, so I did.  (Never, ever believe that a little encouragement can’t help!)
    Since then, I’ve been writing in the Morning Sun pretty regularly, and I enjoy it immensely. I hope to be able to continue doing it for a long, long time.
    In addition to the pieces in the Sun, I’ve written some things that have appeared in a couple of national religious magazines.  Every once in awhile, they will run a piece of mine in my hometown paper in Ada, Oklahoma, and I like to hear from the folks back home when they do.
    And I’ve been rejected a lot.  I’ve had things rejected one place only to be accepted another. I’ve had things accepted and then rejected and then accepted again.  Learning how to accept this kind of rejection has been one of the best ways of improving my character that I’ve discovered.
    Don’t get me wrong: I do not like to have a piece rejected.  However, in being through the process, I’ve learned a thing or two.  Thing one is that it’s not me who is being rejected; it is my article.  Thing two is that often it’s not even my article that is being rejected but my article at a particular time.
    Editors, who are God’s long-suffering gift to writers (and I am not being sarcastic, really, seriously), have a difficult task.  They are trapped by space.  They have to fill it, but not over fill it.  And they have an agenda, a mission.  Each month/week/whatever they have to put together a publication with a theme. They fish through a river of manuscripts looking for the ones for the current stew, and they don’t have time for a writer’s ego.
    Page 2 of 2 - That gestalt helped me not only get past getting hurt by rejections, but it also helped me get past other disappointments in life.  It can all be encapsulated in a phrase: It’s not all about you!
    If I want to optimize my chances of getting published, then I need to find out what the current agenda is and aim for it.  This isn’t a guarantee because sometimes it is about your writing and sometimes it is about you, but not enough to put the lie to what I said earlier.
    So, thank you to all of the folks who follow this space and tell me they like it. To those who are like Stars and have other opinions, I ask your forbearance...and please don’t puke on my keyboard.
    Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University. He blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. You may contact him at okieinexile@gmail.com.

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