• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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I Want You To Want Me



It dawns on me that I’ve probably devoted 100 posts to rejection and not a single one on acceptance. This is says everything about me and the church of expecting the worst. This post is about that moment when you open the letter, the email or answer the phone and the news is good. What happens when they say yes? Yes, we want your poem. Yes, we’d like to publish your story. Or one of the greatest moments in an agent’s life when you call a client and say those four magic words: we have an offer.

Tell us about your first acceptance.

29 Responses

  1. I have none. Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, bla bla bla bla blaaaaa.

    At least, none from anyone who didn’t already know me personally, and was biased by that relationship. That’s the truth of it.

    However, I’ve had these acceptances from readers:
    * Sold my first book.
    * Got my first positive review.
    * Got my first one-star review from a competing author – (That’s when you KNOW you’re doing well!)
    * Received my first fan letter.
    * Sold my 100,000th book.
    * One of my kids helped me write and publish a short novella in four days, and was amazed by how much she loved the process and the story. And, with genuine surprise in her voice, she said, “Wow. You’re actually really good at this.” Greatest acceptance ever.

  2. I love the opportunity to share this because we all have this meandering path towards the goal.

    My first book went on sub in 2012. No offers. In a frenzy of worry, I wrote a second book we didn’t go on sub with it – my choice. I decided to write a third book, something different from the southern fiction I was doing which became a hard crime story titled A BLACK WATER SEASON. That book went on sub on Friday the 13th, Feb 2015. (the agent and I joke about this) And then, the ONE editor I thought I had a chance with (b/c my agent had sold him several books) rejected it four days later. The editor opened the door to “see something else.” My agent sent him Book #1 – which I couldn’t fathom as being anything remotely interesting to this editor, b/c, how could he go from reading the hard crime book to reading a coming of age story, set in Alabama, and told from the perspective of an 11 year old girl? How was that supposed to work?

    I forgot about it. I focused on the other 8 editors who’d yet to make a decision on the hard crime book. Fast forward six weeks. April Fools Day, an email pops in. Subject line: Re: A BLACK WATER SEASON. It was late, I was about to go to bed. I didn’t want to read about another rejection. So, I went to bed. Next morning, I started cleaning the house knowing that email was there, and I still didn’t have the heart to open it. Finally, mid-morning I did. The first line, in big bold bright red…”WE HAVE AN OFFER ON DIXIE DUPREE. If you’re still up, I’ll call, if not, we’ll talk tomorrow. It’s an offer!”

    So. Three years later, my first book sold.

    The End. 🙂

    • And to clarify on that subject line in the email I got – my agent was following up from the same email where he told me the hard crime book was rejected, but he’d sent him Book 1.

    • this is great news, Donna! i think it’s about writing true as opposed to writing commercially but i’m a small press writer. in other words, biased.

      • Thx afuckingwriter. (I just wanted to hear that in my head as I typed it). Seriously, I agree! And I was so relieved when it was DIXIE that sold and not BLACK WATER – b/c writing THAT was a real hair pulling exercise for me. Phew. Back in my comfort zone.

  3. My 1st acceptance for my writing was an essay contest I won in 7th grade, which I read in front of the entire school. When I was done my teacher told me I was a fine writer. It was then that I put down my field hockey stick and picked up a pen. Haven’t looked back since.

  4. My first acceptances were easy because I was publishing my own stories in the university newspaper and in literary magazines I put out during my brief college career. Whatever I wrote, I published. I edited them, too, so you can imagine the trouble I got myself into.

    The most recent acceptance was pleasant and satisfying — after submitting an article in April, I finally heard from the editor in July. She apologized for taking so long to get back to me and I emailed her right back to let her know she had good timing because her email arrived on my birthday.

  5. I got my first acceptance by phone. At first, I was stunned: the unexpectedness, the serendipity, grabbed me. I distinctly remember standing in the kitchen and shrieking for joy (embarrassing!) and my daughter thinking something terrible had happened (comical!). Sure, the college literary magazines were satisfying and respectable, but no published work has been quite as thrilling since that virgin acceptance, or as gratifying as seeing my name emboldened in print that very first time.

  6. Thirty some years ago, I wrote the first ten pages of a young adult novel and sent it out to a slew of agents, pretending I’d finished it. When a slew of agents wrote back to see more, I sat down and wrote the thing in 3 weeks, got an agent (Maria Carvainis), and we sold it to Dial Books for Young Readers. Needless to say, I’ve been ruined forever by this experience.

  7. My first acceptance was from Don Mikula, PhD, who returned papers covered in red-penned comments and counterpoints.He read, edited, corrected, and questioned every line, and summarized his thoughts at the end. I’ve been graced by several very good teachers, but he stands at the summit. He lived and loved teaching, and there are no days when his gifts are not appreciated.

    I stumbled into a magazine gig twelve years ago after some conversations that resulted in an editor suggesting that I do a column for them. Since then, acceptance comes in letters to the magazine, and comments from people who don’t know that I’m that guy. Also, I’ve still got the job.

    • “…comments from people who don’t know that I’m that guy.”

      Oh, that must be enjoyable. And potentially, lots of fun. A total meta-headtrip, even. I bet you’re too nice to make the most of it, but the possibilities, Frank, the possibilities!

  8. Empty nest and job loss led to my first novel. At age 55, on a lark, with no expectations, sent the manuscript to the James Jones Award for an unpublished novel. Low and behold. I quickly updated my query and was able to get the best agent in the universe. Beginner’s luck. Now I struggle to keep that beginner’s mind working for my next book. You can’t go home again.

  9. unlike sex, the first acceptance is always the best. my first was for a short story placed in literary magazine in Canada called The Fiddlehead. i was thrilled, THRILLED. and i drank 3 glasses of wine while doing the laundry; it was a week night and the kids needed clean uniforms.

    i’ll never forget it.

  10. “Tell us about your first acceptance.”

    Oh, I’ll do more than that. There are various categories.

    My first accepted poems, I was still in high school and just starting out as a creative writer. It seemed naturally easy and I didn’t question that it would always be that way. I was wrong.

    My first accepted fiction was many years later, after many years of often fruitless work to learn a craft that tasked me. I received an acceptance from a prestigious magazine that I very much wanted to be published in. This was still back in the snail-mail days. I had been going through a rough few years and was living in a garage. I held the acceptance in my hand and sat down hard on the floor at the kitchen end of my garage and I sobbed.

    But that piece didn’t get published. Not in that magazine. It got all the way to galleys and the magazine folded. Eleven years later it got published in another magazine.

    My first accepted fiction that actually appeared in print was about a year after I moved out of the garage. Things were looking up. I held the published story in my hand and felt pretty damn good.

    My first accepted book also felt pretty damn good. I got the email notice from the publisher. I smiled and told my wife, “I’m going to have a book published. I don’t mean theoretically. I mean, they accepted my book.”

  11. It just happened! I got an email and I thought it was a hoax. Then I thought I must have been the only one who sent in a story. Then I kept think they were going to change their minds. But in between there were moments of pure freakin’ joy!

    I won A&U Magazine’s 2016 Christopher Hewitt Award for fiction! Here it is:

  12. Good story, Marie — Congratulations!

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