A guest post by Anat Shenker-Osorio, a San Francisco public seminar alum. Her piece in The Atlantic was among the publication’s “Today’s Top Stories” on Aug. 1st.
I can no longer remember all of the outlets that have rejected me, let alone the number of times each has intoned “Thanks, but no thanks.” But some particular incidents stand out. Like the time an editor from one of the most respected dailies reached out soliciting an op-ed from me based on the ideas in my book. Dropping everything, I worked furiously through the weekend, roping in my book editor and the kindest ever Mentor from The OpEd Project to help me revise my work.
Having spun for myself some pretty sweet fantasies — Fresh Air, Colbert, you name it — about who would be calling for me once my by-line appeared in this paper, the editors passed. Then, this happened about five more times with magazines and other papers.
I’d love to say I’ve learned to temper my tendency to see any nibble as the first step toward name recognition, respect for my research and a chance to meet Stephen Colbert. But I haven’t. What I have gained instead is the admittedly unsexy knowledge that “No” just means “Rework it and ask someone else.” Follow the news, wait till your point is timely, rework your lede and send it to another person. In fact, my latest piece in the Atlantic began its life over a year ago as that aforementioned solicited and rejected op-ed.