For any aspiring writer, a rejection letter, regardless of the provenience of said letter, is one of the most dreaded of objects. In this line of work getting rejected is considered a sort of literary murder – people are knowingly destroying something you’ve spent time on, and a lot of it. But the thing is everyone got rejected, more or less. I can think of very few instances when writers found publishers/agents from the first try. Or the second, or the tenth.
As the story told itself, it switched around some on the actual prompt, but that’s okay. I let it go where it wanted to go. Let the speaker use his own voice which is nothing like mine. And nothing like my normal writing. But it was fascinating to watch the words flow.
It ain’t easy. That much is for sure. Been a long time since I killed anything but back in the day….. yeah…. back in the day…..
It came for me when I was 15. Thought I was tough then, I did. Big swagger as I walked down the street. Tough words. Angry words. Ugly words. Funny how when you’re young you think those things make you tough. Don’t take me wrong. I was a scrapper. I’d been in any number of street fights. All my life. Thought that made me tough, too. How little I knew.
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.[…]
This is the first line from Desiderata, written in 1927 by American writer Max Ehrmann. I first encountered it in the recording by US talk show host Les Crane. It got to number 6 in 1971. I still recall listening to it by candlelight: we had no power due to several weeks of power cuts due to strike action. It went on to become something of a cult, even Mr Spock got in on the act.
I still love it. Especially the line:
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit :)
There remains some confusion over whether it is or indeed ever was in copyright. I will ‘exercise caution’ as it advises and use only the opening lines. The full text is here.