Friday Speak Out!: Night Thoughts: When Counting Backwards From 100 to l Didn't Do It, Guest Post by Jo Barney

Friday, July 15, 2011
Night Thoughts: When Counting Backwards From 100 to l Didn't Do It

by Jo Barney

At 3:00 a.m this morning I realized that I should not have sent out twelve query letters for Graffiti Grandma the same week I laid fifty invitations to a Holiday party on the doorsteps of my condo neighbors. I can now expect rejections in not one but two areas in my life and I'm not sure my ego will survive.

Just how much stress can an old lady handle? An even better question might be: Why did she think she needed to do either kind of reaching-out? And what inspired her? The long hours in front of the computer, the tentative smiles from strangers on the elevator, the panting novel, the hope to move past smiles to names?

In the midst of that night-churning I forced myself to think about other things, about the four novels I've finished. Each is about a woman who needs to solve a few problems. In fact, one of the protagonists is dead already, but still trying. And each woman is older than the one in the previous book. Just as I am getting older. They've gone from sexy to arty to philosophical to crabby. Just like me. They worry about marriage, divorce, children, loss, and redemption in the same ways I have.

What seems to be clear now that it is light outside and I've had my coffee is that I've spent the past fifteen years chronicling my life as I wandered through it.

How uncreative of me, I think, pouring another cup. Then I run my glance over my book case full of old and new books that I love enough to make me unable to donate them to the library used book sale. I see that I am not alone. Roth, Updike, Hemingway, Smiley, Proulx and even Evanovitch, I betcha, seem to find their truths and their characters first in themselves. I'm thinking that most writers do. While I'm not in the same league as these writers and most of the others on my shelves, I am beginning to understand that I write to learn more about myself. And that it is okay. Maybe even healthy.

So my next story will involve a woman who sits bolt upright in a midnight bed and discovers a way to deal with an heavy onset of rejection. Maybe she'll start testing recipes for Holiday punch and discover that after a few swallows, rejection isn't that big a deal, just life.

* * *
Jo Barney is a retired educator who is delighted to have time to write even when it means rejections every once in a while, or more often. She's been published on-line and in printed journals but her goal, for whatever misguided reason, is to see her novel, any one of them, in print. Her blog is Breakout Novel, a Race to the Finish, but it remains to be seen who or what finishes first. (

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Great post, Jo! Thanks for sharing. This line, regarding your characters, made me laugh out loud -

"They've gone from sexy to arty to philosophical to crabby. Just like me."


abby said...

Thanks for this post - funny and so real. It's tough to look forward from the beginning of my writing career and realize that rejection will always be a part of it. But, I am learning early that I really do write to learn more about myself.

Miss Good on Paper said...

I enjoyed this post so much! The "next story" sounds like something I would enjoy reading. You're right; rejection is just a part of life. =)

-Miss GOP

Anonymous said...

Good luck!! You are NOT alone.

Juliann Wetz said...

I love your "next story" idea, too. Funny where inspiration comes from, isn't it?

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