Posted by: jeannineatkins | November 11, 2011

Worthy, Too Worthy?

All writers get rejection letters, which always hurt, though with passing years at least we gain a wider memory of how one bounces back. The best letters offer advice that we start to see as a gift. Others seem off the mark, and many editors stick to something like “Sorry, not for me,” which can be frustratingly vague but is also wise: how many of us, after all, love the same books?

But a recent note was worded differently than any in my collection. I was told the manuscript was “too worthy.” I felt stung by the two words put together, then wondered about what I could learn from them. I write concisely hoping not to waste people’s time, but some people duck into books for more of dive, a ride that perhaps can feel smoother with words flung more liberally and randomly. I harbor a love of stories that may deepen or widen our view of the world, but I don’t aim to harp on what’s been missing from history. Okay, maybe I preach a bit; I’m preaching here.

I don’t create the sorts of books that will make children roll on the floor with laughter or curl up to dream of romance and its missteps. Like most writers, I want to write the type of books I like to read, and those books are never far from me as I look for the best words and ways to arrange them. Maybe they’re worthy, maybe they’re too worthy. I guess I’m going to have to live with the unknowing, the way I’m sitting in a café I chose for its view of yellow leaves, but where I feel not cool enough. I overhear conversations about kale, cabbage, chickens, and chilled baby pigs who were warmed up with a hair dryer. A little girl in a stroller is asked about her first protest at the White House. Come to think of it, it’s kind of a worthy place. The glass case holds chocolate cupcakes made with squash and frosted with local cream cheese. The whole wheat cherry scones are delicious. I don’t feel like I fit right in, but there we go, isn’t that how most of us feel too much of the time? I get back to writing.

For better or worse, richer or poorer, I think I know my course. All readers must decide the balance of escapism and food for chewy thought, levity and depth, they want in a book or sentence, but “too” and “worthy” glommed together?

Sorry, not for me.

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Responses

  1. If you could slip in a character or two with pointed canines or one who fusses over the color of her brassiere, you might loose the noose of worthiness. Nah, not worth it. Stick with “worthy.” The “too” belongs to someone else.

    • Dear Sarah, thank you for making me smile. Dr. Seuss tells me there’s only one me, in a better, rhymier way, and I’ve going to move forward with that. But how lovely to know I have good friends at my back.

  2. Too worthy? Did you ask what they meant by that? I don’t think I could have resisted. That has to go in the ‘oddest’ rejection’s folder. ♥

    • That last comment…by Carol Weis ;~)

      • Carol, I can’t say I haven’t wondered. Obviously, as there’s a blog post, maybe more than I should have. But I’m figuring it was just a not great way of saying “not for me,” and am moving on.


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