Fourth Grade Flashbacks

Flashback to the fourth grade. The year that Mrs. Lucey died and Mrs. Dexter took her place but none of it mattered because I was in the tall and willowy Ms. Anthony’s class while my best friend learned down the hall. The year we had math together with Mrs. Gillis, a firecracker of a teacher who actually threw a wet sponge at a student and caught him—splosh—right in the face. I have no recollection of his trespass but I can’t forget the noise of that sponge making contact. The year I wrote my first book and mailed it off to an editor with Ms. Anthony’s help.

Laboring over that story of Mr. Merman and his friend Lobster (and yes, it was before Disney’s The Little Mermaid and a century and a half after Hans Christian Andersen’s original). Pecking away at the Apple IIGS keyboard in the corner of the guestroom. My mother helping me type. Printing from the dot matrix printer and tearing off the sides of the continuous feed paper. Addressing and sealing the manila envelope, headed straight from Small Town, Connecticut to New York, NY. The feelings are forgotten. Was I certain of my creative brilliance? Nervous about a response? Even aware of what it meant to submit a piece of writing?

The tender rejection letter was crafted carefully, with encouraging words, written by a kind editor who had mercy on a fourth-grader. Today I remember this because I just submitted a query for an article and I’m certain that while a rejection letter may follow, no tender editor will write me back. I’m no longer 9 and writing in blue ink on my dad’s dot matrix printer. Which translates to no kindness headed my way.

I know better now, what it means to bare my soul in writing. If the piece were in a manila envelope at the end of my driveway, I would have snatched it back already but I hit “send” and my options are gone. In all likelihood, I won’t hear anything and that wound smarts more than the rejection.

I don’t write to be published. I don’t write to be read. I write to write. May I remember that today.

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3 thoughts on “Fourth Grade Flashbacks

  1. Such a beautiful memory, Elizabeth! Thank you for sharing it with me. I so understand the fear of rejection. I’m glad you submitted your query anyway. Wouldn’t it be a pleasant surprise if it was accepted? 🙂

  2. I love this!!! I just wrote about my experiences in the fourth grade recently. What is it about the fourth grade?? Is that when we really start to become or when we really began to remember? I started writing then too but never had dreams of becoming a writer. Never. I wanted to be a teacher for a short while but that faded away. I really just wanted to be a mother and a pastor’s wife. I got my wish. And more. Now I am writing too! God works in mysterious ways…you have a lovely way of storytelling. I am enchanted. ♥

    • Thank you so much! I really needed encouragement in my writing and got it today in massive doses. Thanking God for sending you along to my blog! Have you read much Amy Carmichael? I just thought of her when I read some of your story and your heart for the nations while dealing with chronic suffering. May the Lord bless you richly today!

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