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Right To Write: I Write What I Can’t

Sometime in June 2010, I was sitting in an internet café, somewhere along a busy road, busy surfing, like any other day. If I recall clearly...

Sometime in June 2010, I was sitting in an internet café, somewhere along a busy road, busy surfing, like any other day.

If I recall clearly, I had finished sending my emails, then, an advert drew my attention. It read: we are seeking a freelance health writer.

The post required a candidate with previous experience, including the ability to travel across the length and breadth of the country, especially in a rural setting to fulfill assigned assignments.

By @Comic24Derick

Though I did not have all the relevant experience, I forwarded my application without blinking. Whether I was accepted or rejected, I had nothing to lose. This happened to me before, many times.

Patience pays 

Then, I waited for the response.

A week later I got a surprise response to my job application. I had landed the post. My first assignment was to travel 400 kilometers to a rural hospital to interview a young girl, a survivor of a horrific accident.

She was a heroine, after she saved her niece, by shielding her as the bus rolled down the valley. Thereafter, she spent nine months confined to a hospital bed.
Since Birth, I Have Always Wanted Write
Besides travelling on assignments, I proposed health topics, researched and wrote articles. In school, I was probably the worst biology student. The health beat was new to me.

But I was determined to succeed. As a foreigner, based in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa then, I had more hindrances of getting noticed.

After I landing the freelance post, I was confident I could accomplish anything. With that in mind, I pitched to larger publications.

Try, try, try again...

My first article was rejected, so was the second, the third, and so on. I was expecting this, so I continued sending out more, and more articles.

I can’t recall how many rejections I got. But I remember one of my articles was responded to, finally. On publication day, I celebrated this rare feat.

After all, I was a foreigner, and what I had achieved was beyond my expectations.

By now, I was convinced that I could go the extra mile and accomplish more. I had always to be a writer, a published author. For now, I had overcome the first hurdle of getting published in a major news outlet.

Next, I attempted penning a manuscript.
Since My Childhood, I Have Always Wanted To Write A Book
After some mixed fortunes inside South Africa, I knew what I wanted to write about. In my mind, I wanted to be the next Chinua Achebe. My mission was to be an African equivalent of William Shakespeare.

But first, I had to write.

You are not the first to be rejected

As I sat down to write, I appreciated the countless hurdles that some accomplished authors had faced. D. H. Lawrence for example was initially told his manuscript would not make it.

“...for your own sake do not publish this book.” D.H. Lawrence did not take this advice, and Lady Chatterley’s Lover was soon published. The rest is now history.

Again, Stephen King was told that “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” Yet, he went on to become a best-selling author, selling millions of books, across the globe.

If he had listened to the negative feedback he got, he could have not accomplished his mission. So I was determined to become one of those successful writers.

In six months, the manuscript was done, and I forwarded it to a publisher. I waited for the scheduled three months for the response. Then it was four months, five and eventually the response came. Finally, it came.

“We would like to inform you that…” To be honest, I was taken aback. It took me a while to accept the response. After a while, I acknowledged receiving the rejection, polished the manuscript, and then sent it to the next publisher.
I Have Received Many Rejections, But I continue To Pitch
A few months later, another refusal hit my inbox. By now, I was getting accustomed to these rejections. The more regrets I got, the more determined I became.

But as the rejection letters piled, I began to convince myself that I can’t write. Maybe, I was trying to become what I was not supposed to be.

Rejection must not define you

Someone prescribed that “No matter what happens in your writing career, keep going. Doesn't matter if you have a bad first draft. Just keep writing and keep forcing yourself to grow. You will succeed but you must keep moving forward. Your goals are possible.”

With that in mind, I continue to write.

The manuscript went back and forth, sometimes to publishers across the globe. I pushed on. Because I was told I ‘can’t write’ I wanted to prove that I can write what they said I can’t.

Years after my initial manuscript was rejected, I haven’t yet given up. I know my quest to become an author is not far. Moreover, I am now comfortable in writing topics that I never imagined myself engaging in.
When I Write More, I Improve My Writing Skills
The latest rejection letter said: “Thank you for sending us a copy of your manuscript. While we appreciate the chance to read your work, this submission is not a good fit for our current list. We wish you all the best in finding successful publication elsewhere.”

You have the right to write

For the record, I save all my rejection letters, just for record keeping. Yet, I know one day, they will become proof that I can write.

I convinced myself that, if I succeed in becoming a health writer before, to simplify the complicated issues into simple issues that people can relate to and understand, then I can become whoever I want to become.

To date, I have contributed to some revered international publications, where I never imagined it could be possible to get a byline, let alone, being published more than once.

Yes, I have been told no often, but I have chosen to discount that. Each time I am told no, I open a blank word document and start to write, more and more.

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