Jacqueline West, Writer

Bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere and Dreamers Often Lie

The countdown continues: 51 days

May 15, 2012    Tags: ,   

I am a failure at this daily blogging thing.  However, my failure is making this countdown to THE SECOND SPY go a lot faster.  (Only 51 days left? It seems like just one entry ago there were 55…)

Today’s F.A.Q.: How old were you when you started writing?

This is my very first rejection letter.  It came from Highlights Magazine, and I just rediscovered it last fall, glued into my oldest scrapbook amid a lot of My Little Pony and Care Bears birthday cards.  Of course, Highlights handles submissions from kids very kindly, so it wasn’t so much a rejection as a “Don’t call us; we’ll call you” sort of letter, but the outcome was the same.  I’d sent them some little four-line rhyming poem–I think there were cows in it–and I was trying to write something that the magazine would like, not that I liked. 

You can see the date, typewritten at the top: December 30, 1987.   The day after my eighth birthday.

The poem I sent to Highlights is the first poem that I can recall putting on paper outside of school, on my own, just because I wanted to.  I started writing my first “book” not too long afterward: It was a lavish mess about a rebellious princess who ran away from her kingdom and ended up in a valley full of unicorns (as one does, if one is a rebellious princess).  I didn’t show that story to anyone.  And I didn’t show anyone my next story (which was probably also about unicorns), or my next poem, or the story after that, or the poem after that.  And I didn’t submit my writing to any kind of publication for another eight years.

By then I had written dozens of poems and stories.  And I had gotten a little bit better at it.



2 Comments (Leave a comment)

  1. I don’t think I submitted to HIGHLIGHTS, though something about that letter seems SO familiar. I did submit more than once to CRICKET magazine. I think they were kind, though I was crushed all the same. I love the typewritten note!

    Comment by Claire Caterer on May 16, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

  2. Sounds like we were in the same little boat! If only all rejection letters were so kind (and personally typewritten)…

    Comment by JacquiWest on May 17, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

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