Memory snap-shot: my father at the kitchen table, leafing through an issue of the New Yorker. He turns the last page and pushes the magazine away. “I didn’t get a single one.”
“Anatomy of a New Yorker cartoon,” a Ted talk by Bob Mankoff, the magazine’s cartoon editor, is (of course!) quite funny. It is also insightful into how humour works, the creative process, and what it takes to succeed in getting something published.
The New Yorker receives around 1,000 cartoons each week, and only publishes about 17 of them. Mankoff himself had the first 1000 cartoons he submitted rejected. One thousand!
Step one for all creatives: collect 1000 rejections.
After years of making the New Year resolution to “get something published” — and failing every year — I decided that my resolution was the problem. The following New Year, I instead made the resolution to begin a collection of rejection letters, a collection that I intended to ultimately include a rejection from every literary magazine in North America.
I didn’t get very far, for — ironically — that was the year my Josephine B. Trilogy was accepted for publication. My many rejections had finally paid off.
An essential truth of the writing life is that the path to publication is paved with rejections. Perseverance is the key.
On that sobering note, enjoy a little New Yorker humour:
Happy New Year! May your 2015 be creative and fruitful.
In Mexico, Italy and elsewhere, one wears red underwear on New Year’s Eve, promising passion in the year ahead. Yellow signifies prosperity, so some wear both yellow and red.
What colour should a writer wear?