I’ve don’t know Dick Wimmer and I won’t be meeting him anytime soon, except perhaps, in the big book club in the sky. But even so, I admire his gumption. It took him more than two decades and more than 150 rejections before his first novel, Irish Wine, was published. Claiming that agents and publishers had passed him by more than 162 times, Dick made a bid for a very dubious distinction: “the most-rejected published novelist in history,” according to his obit in The New York Times.
Can you imagine receiving 162 rejections? I think the first Chicken Soup book racked up a similar number (maybe even higher). Astonishing, isn’t it? Think of the staying power you have to have to survive that many turn downs and keep going. How many of us would be able to handle 10 rejections or 20 or 30?
What kept Dick going? I really have no idea, because I never met the man, but I’d have to wager it was two things: his belief that he had a story worth telling and his belief that it was worth reading. And you know what? When Irish Wine was finally published, one reviewer described it as a “taut, finely written, exhaustingly exuberant first novel.” Not bad! Dick also went on to write and publish two sequels.
Right now, I’m in the midst of revising the first draft of my YA novel. I plan to polish it until it shines. I love this stage of things: it’s really just me and the page and my characters and a few trusted readers. The only rejection that’s going on is when I decide that something doesn’t fit and decide to cut it. I’m the Mistress of Revelries and I get to make a “joyful noise” on the page. There’s no one to judge me or diminish my efforts or dismiss my work: Everything’s possible.
I’d love to stay in this warm, safe space, but sadly, I can’t. I want something bigger: I want a book. When I step my story out, I’m going to keep Dick Wimmer in mind. Here’s what his son, Ceo, said about him: “He was never going to give up. Very driven.” Drive on, Dick! As for us, let’s write on!