Today we have a treat, a guest blog post by Rosemary Aubert. Rosemary is the author of the internationally-acclaimed Ellis Portal mystery series and a well-known poet, short-story writer and essayist. She was born in Niagara Falls, New York and has lived in Toronto, Canada for many years. I have long admired Rosemary’s immense versatility as a writer, teacher, editor and friend. Pick up any one of her books and you are in for a delight.
Surprises in the Mail
Blog post by Rosemary Aubert
It’s part of a writer’s life to have a special relationship to the mail. In the old days, before the internet, the mail involved a physical object of some sort—something you could touch, could carry with you, could tear up and throw away in anger and frustration if you felt like it.
Now, of course, the mail—or at least a great deal of it—is different. You can save it, you can print it, you can wipe it away with the single stroke of a furious finger.
But I think that the same shaky feeling, the same mixture of hope and despair that used to overtake many a writer at a glimpse of the mailman (they were men in the old days) coming up the walk with something in his hand—that same shaky feeling overtakes the writer who is awaiting something when he or she presses the button that opens the internet like the knob opened the door of long ago.
Like all my fellow writers, I have had many adventures and misadventures waiting for, receiving, and reacting to mail of one sort or another. Just the other day, I went downstairs to the mailroom of my apartment building to find an ominous white slip of paper pasted to the door. A quick trip to a “pickup centre” soon revealed the dreaded return package which, when opened, showed a slightly tattered manuscript (at least they had read it) and a more than usually polite rejection letter saying my writing was wonderful but not for them.
Even though every writer toughens herself against rejection, I was devastated. But when I got upstairs and opened my email, I found an enthusiastic response from a different editor. So, you see, it works both ways.
I remember the first time I waited for news in the mail. I must have been about ten. I was living in Niagara Falls, New York, and I already harboured the dream of making it big in New York City. As a first step toward fame in America, I had submitted a verse to Hallmark Cards, suffering the abuse of my younger siblings who were, nonetheless, old enough to find my ambition ridiculous. Imagine their delight when an answer finally came in the mail. It was a card from Hallmark. It said, “Better Luck Next Time…”
Many years later when I had become a novelist published around the world, I received an envelope from my publisher—yes, my New York publisher. Thinking it held a royalty cheque for a few hundred dollars, I stashed it in my purse intending to open it the next time I got to the bank. Imagine my surprise when I opened the envelope in front of the teller and found a cheque for twenty-five thousand dollars!
Today, like every day, I will eagerly await the postperson. Will she bring money? An acceptance? A positive review? Or something negative? Or nothing?
“Engrossing…well drawn characters, supple prose and effectively delivered emotional surprises.”
Wall Street Journal
Visit Rosemary at: rosemaryaubert.com