Cast Out Your Nets Once More

(I’m taking a break from “Three Tips” this week to offer a sermonette. More tips next week.)

At church recently, we heard the Gospel where Jesus appears to the disciples who have been fishing all day and caught nothing. He tells them to cast out their net one more time. And they say, “Lord, there’s no fish out here. We’ve tried and tried.” He says, “Well, try it once more.” And boom, the net comes up full to bursting with fish.

Somehow, that Gospel reading made me think about my writing. God knows I get rejections just like all writers. They always seem to come in bunches. I think I got seven in the first two weeks of April. It’s like everyone wants to finish their contests and clear out their submissions by April 15. The rejections all came by e-mail. I miss the days of paper rejections where at least you could wait until you picked up the mail instead of having rejections arrive on your computer while you’re writing. Right now as I write this, I have an Internet blocker, Freedom, going, and I try to always keep sound off so I don’t get that little ping that signals I have a new e-mail and tempts me away from the work at hand. I recommend you do the same. Getting a big old “no” can scare the muse away in a hurry.

But like the fishermen, real writers will keep trying. There are incentives, whether it’s the fish that just swam by a near-acceptance or placing in a contest. Recently I’ve had work that placed as semi-finalist, finalist or won honorary mention in prose and poetry contests. I’ve had editors says, “We can’t use this, but try us again.” But I have also won contests, and I have had editors say yes before. I know it can happen again, but only if I keep trying. Writing is a gamble. I don’t play the lottery; I’m a writer instead.

So, let’s all try it one more time. Cast out your net and see what comes up. Of course, you have to use the right bait, and you have to fish in the lake or river most likely to yield a good catch, just as you need to send out good writing to the markets most likely to use it, but if you keep trying, you will catch a fish and you will get your work published.