Soniah Kamal

My photo
'Islam is not Pakistan's religion; Marriage is'

Monday, November 7, 2011

Getting Published after Forty Years of Rejection: Mary Glickman at the MJCCA

I had the great pleasure of listening to authors Mary Glickman and Amy Waldman at the wonderful Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. Amy Waldman is the brilliant author of the must-read, beyond brilliant novel The Submission (more on this novel in another post). The Submission is a debut novel and has soared in a way that all novels, debut or otherwise, dream of soaring. The Submission is, as Mary Glickman would say, 'the right idea at the right time' (of course even right ideas at the right time have to be well executed to get anywhere). Mary Glickman is the author of eight novels, but she is the published author of two,  Home in the Morning and One More River.
Mary's first six novels garnered forty years of rejection; that she plugged on is a measure of the tenacity most writers require if they want to get published (there is also the tenacity required in the face of finally getting published, but to no fanfare, but that is another blog post.
Mary's tenacity truly blew me away. Here is her inspiring story of how she got her agent and the secret to continue creating/writing when the publishing end is not working out ; the secret that all of us know: love the very act of writing, of story telling, and the rest will eventually follow.  

They say you are what you do. Each time I failed, I rolled up my sleeves and started over. Somewhere in there ambition took a back seat and the joy of writing sat up next to me in the catbird one. I was a writer. I had to write. It was what I did.
Rejection—especially 40 years of it—hurts. I’m sorry, Cynthia, it’s not a little death; it’s more like the devastation of plague or flood. But it only hurts oceans if you’re waiting idly when it comes. If you’re working on something new, the new thing is a buffer, it protects you, it gives you fresh hope. The Buddha was right. It’s the process not the goal that sustains you. Trust me.
When I wrote Home in the Morning, I wrote it to please myself. There were reasons I shouldn’t have written it at all. It’s about Southern Jews during the civil rights era. I was born and raised Catholic Yankee. It’s plotted in a nonlinear fashion. Its point of view is an innovation of sorts. I don’t use quotation marks for speech. All risky business for the unpublished. But I enjoyed writing it as I’d never enjoyed writing before.
When it was done, I thought about getting a new agent. Yes, I still had the same agent I’d had back in ’76. I was fond of her, she of me, but I’d nearly 40 years proof we weren’t such a hot match. I was terrified" read rest here.