Issue 167 - 05 | Perseverance Is the Biggest Talent

By Norma Hopcraft
Published Aug. 8, 2018 12:00 p.m.
“After losing my way in life, just a bit, I re-launched a writing career—a childhood dream—and began to send work to literary magazines. I was bursting with hope for affirmation of my great skill and broad experience. Editors would be glad I sent them work. I would be a literary star.

I sent out stories and essays confidently at first.

Months later I would get a reply in the mail—from The Paris Review, for example (I’m a sucker for the biggest names). I would stand motionless, desperate for acceptance, floating amongst the stars with hope. I’d slip my finger under a loose corner of the flap and tear. Take the slip of paper and hold it up to my near-sighted eyes. The pain of rejection dragged me from the stars into the red-hot magma at the core of the earth.

I’d get a letter from a lit magazine and cringe at the pain I was about to feel. I would try to cut off hope—it seemed easier than to be disappointed again. Then I’d hope against hope, wishing for that surge of affirmation from being accepted. But I knew at this point that it wasn’t likely. I’d whip through those three stages several times. Then I would say, ‘Open it. It might just be what you want to hear.’ I was right twice. But hundreds of times I got a rejection, and each one floored me for days, if not weeks.

But I chose each time to keep working at my craft. I may be more talented at dogged perseverance than I am at creative writing.

It doesn’t matter. I have to write. If I don’t, Franz Kafka’s quote comes true: “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.” … So I’ve bird-dogged my goal: to keep out of the asylum and instead to benefit the world as my Higher Power wants me to do.”

About Norma Hopcraft | Norma Jaeger Hopcraft has been writing stories for 30 years. She was a newspaper and corporate journalist, then a magna cum laude graduate of New York University’s creative writing and literature program. She recently took a creative writing sabbatical year in Paris and Barcelona. She’s been published in the South Dakota Review and won first prize in a mystery short story contest from Deadly Ink. She lives in Brooklyn and blogs at In Search of the American Dream. You can contact her by leaving a message there. She would love to connect with you!

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