by Angelita Williams
When I was in college, my first creative writing teacher told me, “You show me horse thieves, and I’ll tell you if they’re good or not.”
And of course, the ultimate lesson, the dead horse that he considered worth beating: “Show, don’t tell.”
He assigned each of us books, individually, based on our style. His praise was appreciated because within it, we found guidance.
But for all of his effort and encouragement, I can’t remember his face and can’t recall his name.
I remember being hungry in that classroom, ravenous for an audience, for feedback and for the chance to start my illustrious writing career. I had the deluded confidence of a diary keeper who thought her life was a novel.
I would have carried that arrogance with me, throughout college and perhaps throughout my life, if it hadn’t been for Evelyn.
I think she’s still at the university, though she was in her early seventies when I graduated. She was a prolific writer, petite and constantly smiling. She had a knack for being condescending without being rude – a true virtue of a southern belle – but she had an easy manner that seduced you into her confidence and a voice you wanted to listen to.
I don’t think there were a lot of things she took seriously, and I think she spent a lot of time laughing at the world.
And there I was, a self-important girl with a sprinkling of raw talent, sitting on a high horse so no one could hurt me, tell me I was wrong or tell me I was bad.
And no one could have knocked me off that high horse but Evelyn because what Evelyn did was just unthinkable.
She ignored my work. Overlooked it completely.
When it would come my turn to read aloud, she would usually stop me, about halfway through. Everyone around the table would take a turn to comment, and then Evelyn herself would ask some trite question or abstain completely by slyly changing the subject or moving on to the next student.
I wanted to impress her, so I kept taking her classes; but the result was always the same. My work did not appeal to her.
Evelyn taught me the lesson of accepting rejection, which is possibly the hardest lesson we learn as writers. There’s a fine line between searching for acceptance and soliciting edits, and it’s easy for ego to get in the way of artistic evolution.
When was the first time you dealt with rejection as a writer?
Angelita Williams is an education blogger who loves writing about all the latest online learning trends in the industry. When she's not writing articles, Angelita is probably trying a recipe from her library of cookbooks. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org