Friday, November 16, 2012

From the Trenches: Unbroken

Receiving rejections is a wearing, wearying experience. Each brand-new letter brings a ray of hope. Every time the envelope is opened, that hope is crushed. It's like standing on top of a mountain for thirty seconds before falling to the Earth...and it's a long, long way down.

One author refused to let that fall break her, and because she wouldn't give up all of us know her name.

Being Stubborn

Judy Blume was born in 1938 in New Jersey. As a child, she liked to make up stories in her head. After graduating high school, Judy attended Boston University, but went on to graduate from NYU with a degree in teaching.

Teach she would, but not necessarily in the classroom. Judy went on to marry in the early 1960s, and became busy with a home and a young family. But all those stories were still in her head. So when her children started attending school, July Blume finally had the time to start writing them down. She wrote prolifically, and eventually got enough gumption together to submit her stories to publishers.

They were promptly rejected. Undeterred, Judy Blume continued writing and submitting...and she continued receiving rejection letters. She began selling short stories to magazines, but for two straight years only rejection letters came in the mail.

Blume recounted her experience in her own words on her website: "One magazine, Highlights for Children, sent a form letter with a list of possible reasons for rejection. 'Does not win in competition with others,' was always checked off on mine. I still can't look at a copy of Highlights without wincing."

True Grit

"I would go to sleep at night feeling that I'd never be published. But I'd wake up in the morning convinced I would be."

Blume said that she learned a little more with each new story she created. And finally, someone else agreed. She published her first book in 1969, then a second quickly after. But it wasn't until Are You There God, It's Me Margaret came out in 1971 that Blume officially became a bestselling author.

Her books have sold more than 80 million copies around the world, and today Judy Blume is considered to be one of the foremost children's writers in the business. Take that, Highlights magazine!

Judy Blume was stubborn, and continued to dream about being a writer even when her hopes were repeatedly crushed. She didn't give up, and eventually the publishing industry gave in. She wrote in the trenches, fueled on little more than hope, and she's still writing today.

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