Choosing to See Rejection as a Pass

I truly believed with all of my heart that I had found an agent to help me navigate the children’s book publishing market. I awaited a phone call believing thoroughly that my breakthrough was a breath away.

That breath came through an email and exhaled, “NO!”

I inhaled my tears.

I’ve stopped writing for the last few weeks. I can blame it on work, family obligations, and just life in general, but the blame is no one else’s weight to hold but my own. It has been my choice to not commit to my writing. To fill my writing time with committee work. To fill my writing time with sleep. To fill my writing time with busy-ness. It has been my choice to view rejection as a sting.

One of my writing group members shared with me Carrie Pearson’s thoughts on rejections. Pearson stated, “I call them passes versus rejections.”

I like this game of choosing to see a rejection as a pass. So far, agents have passed on Victory Stumbles, but I know the dream God placed in my heart since I was a little girl will come to fruition. I will be a published children’s book author. Maybe Victory Stumbles won’t be published. Maybe a different book I’ve already written or one I have yet to write will be my first step into the children’s book market.

To achieve my dream I know what I have to do. I have to revise. I have to write. I have to reject my excuses. I have to pass my manuscript onto the next individual who is a part of this journey toward publication even if he/she chooses to pass the manuscript right back to me.

I will keep writing my stories. I will not reject God’s promises. His timing is perfect. I pass these yet-to-be-fulfilled dreams onto Him.

Teacher-Writers Revise

Writers don’t write. They rewrite.

As a teacher-writer, I welcome the inherent challenges of rewriting. Even this short blog post took more rewrites than I anticipated! Yet, isn’t that always the case with writing?

Teaching others to embrace the myriad opportunities to rewrite is riddled with challenges, especially when working with elementary students. Conferencing with a student-writer and suggesting revisions may be answered with a look of utter shock: You mean I’m not done! But I filled up the whole page!

Many teachers lament students will not revise. Students might change a word or two. Toss in some edits. But revise? Revising is hard. Intricately connected to the recursive writing process, revision seems to require too much from student-writers.

I firmly believe students need to see revision modeled. When teacher-writers choose to impact their writing community through modeling, they make the writing process, especially revision, transparent.

Yet, teacher-writers need support, too. How do you become a teacher-writer who revises in the first place? Choice? Professional Development? College course?

I am honored to model my own revision process for preservice teachers enrolled in a flipped writing methodology course. Preservice teachers evolve into teacher-writers as they acquire content knowledge outside of class; they participate in online modules on such topics as teacher-writers, writer’s craft for fiction/nonfiction, revision, conferencing, grammar, handwriting, authentic writing opportunities, and writing assessment. During “class time,” they participate in writing workshop during the first half of the semester. I provide mini lessons, model my own writing process, and highlight mentor texts. I conference with the teacher-writers while they write independently in two genres—narrative and explanatory/informational.

I believe teacher-writers need to transfer their personal writing workshop experiences to their writing pedagogy. Thus, during the second half of the semester, teacher-writers tutor local elementary student-writers. Teacher-writers apply concrete revision strategies through their modeling and explicitly teach their students how to revise. Also, rather than only teach writing, the teacher-writers continue to write. I support their writing development through virtual conferencing as they craft argument pieces.

As teacher-writers experience writing workshop opportunities, in person and virtually, they develop their teacher-writer voices. Teacher-writers’ voices grow with passion and are contagious as they embrace opportunities to teach others to write. They choose to make the revision process clear so students can learn to tackle writer’s craft. Writing is a messy endeavor, but when students observe their teacher-writers’ revision processes, they witness writer’s craft in action as the messy draft evolves into a mentor text.

As student-writers experience their teacher-writers’ modeling, they realize all writers face struggles with revision. An “aha moment” spreads across the student-writers’ faces: Oh, that’s what you mean. I can write like you.

Student-writers and teacher-writers don’t write. They rewrite.