Rejection Letters and Ray Bradbury

I recently received yet another rejection notice.  They are starting to build up.  Should I be discouraged?  Am I just a poor writer?  Is it possible that I haven’t found my voice?  Maybe. . . Or perhaps it is just part of the maturing process for those of us in the craft.  Whatever the reason, I am going to continue submitting stories, essays, and articles.  In fact, I will dedicate this particular denial to Raymond Douglas Bradbury.  Thank you Ray, for not quitting when amidst the piles of rejection notices that you accumulated over the years.  Each one designed to inform a writer that his or her work was not worthy of publication.  However, you persevered in spite of this.

Had it not been for your efforts, I may not have grown up participating in so many of your stories through comics, books, TV, and old time radio.  It was productions such as Suspense, Lights Out, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dimension X, X Minus One, and The Twilight Zone that twisted my brain into the psychological pretzel it is today.  As a result, I became acquainted not only with your work, but also with your mentors, peers, and prodigies.  They joined you on the stage inside the theater of the mind, taking me places far beyond my linoleum-covered bedroom floor.

I discovered that I wanted to join in this club of creating worlds, characters, and guide others on exciting adventures.  I remember asking my parents for a Superscope cassette recorder for my ninth birthday.  I would act out the short stories I had composed in my head playing all the roles.  I spent many hours every week as an Absolute Aural Auteur, writing, acting, producing, and engineering my monumental productions for an audience of one.

As life would have it, these creative outbursts were suppressed for many reasons and I gave up on pursuing them for more “realistic” goals.  I found the next best outlet: reading.  I read everything I could get my hands on.  I was thrilled to join Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H. P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Isaac Asimov exploring unknown realms, and more importantly to study human nature.  I added their stories to my long list of classics.

I remember the first time I read Bradbury’s short story “The Veldt.”  It was during my freshman year at Don Antonio Lugo HS.  The words leaped off the page in vivid technicolor exposing me to virtual reality long before it became a popular buzzword.  I had found an escape from what I considered a banal life.  Of course, my life wasn’t as dull as I thought, but at the time I perceived it as such.

My desire to create had gone into hibernation.  It lay buried in the fertile soil of my psyche, tangled in the root system far below the packed earthy surface.  At times, I wanted to write, I wanted to create, I wanted to be part of a community that made new things, but it took over twenty years for these drives to resurface.

I started attending college for the first time in my forties at which time I discovered the people in the humanities division.  Forgive my melodrama—OMG!  Where had these people been all my  life?  I thought I was the only person that quoted bizarre lines from obscure productions, or made veiled references to double entendre’s found in Greek Mythology.  They also knew about art, music, literature, drama, and most importantly the value found in reading and writing.  They accepted me into their strange little cults and laughed at my insider jokes.  It did not matter whether I was referencing Poe, Twain, the Bible, MST3K, or Charles Dickens; they appreciated the diversity in life.  We didn’t have to agree about things to discuss them.  They also shared golden nuggets of information about random things that those outside our clique would never comprehend.

I don’t only write because I want to, it is more because I have to.  It is part of who I am.  I will consider this little rejection notice just another stepping stone on the path to my destiny.  R.I.P. Ray Bradbury and thank you for not quitting, the world is a richer place as a result of your efforts.