Monday, June 20, 2011


Sunday morning, June 5, 2011

   NEW YORK (AP) – Harry Bernstein, whose acclaimed memoir of an English childhood haunted by anti-Semitism, “The Invisible Wall”, was published when he was 96, has died at 101.

After receiving 40 rejections, and burning most of his manuscripts, he did write successfully. In 2008, at the age of 98, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to pursue his writing. I cannot get that first AP sentence out of my mind. I read the rest of those two columns a few minutes ago. They are a testament to perseverance.

Pursue his writing? At 98 years old?  Bravo, Mr. Bernstein.

How embarrassing for those of us who despair at our first, tenth, twenty-first rejection.  I have no illusions about my writing skill. I enjoy it and find some satisfaction in what I’ve accomplished so far. How much longer should I keep trying; I am, after all, seventy years old.  I’ve decided that wallowing in sorrow and disappointment for more than one week, over a rejection slip, is a waste of time. The odds that I could create a best selling novel, or wildly popular magazine/newspaper column are not good. Especially if I never try again.

So I will listen to our writing group’s speakers. I will read up on articles in Writing, and The Writer, search Amazon for yet another new tome on Creative Non-Fiction. I will share writing thoughts with fellow writers.  I will learn to trust my own judgment about my stories, hang the rejections slips on my black “Ribbon of Despair,” and keep writing and enjoying it. 

There are no options available.

Georgia Downer is BWG Treasurer. She writes essays and short fiction and has won prizes for her work. She's currently working on a novel.

1 comment:

  1. You are not 70 years old. Don't look a day over 59.5. We're never too old to learn, grow, or keep doing what we love.
    Great post, Georgia.