Although hearing professors share their struggles in publishing might sound depressing, the Student Engagement Committee’s sponsorship of a rejected works reading, served instead to reinforce students’ belief in themselves and their work, reminding them they’re not alone and inspiring them to persevere in the face of difficulty.
Held March 21 in the A/V Theatre panelists Mike Berntsen, Hannah Baggott-Anderson, and Autumn Lauzon read selections of essays, poems, fiction, and nonfiction that had been rejected during the publishing process. Then, they discussed the trials and successes of trying to publish their writing. Approximately eleven UNCP students, staff, and faculty attended.
Faculty participants wanted to show students that they face the same challenges and fears. “It’s easy for students to view instructors as masters of writing who rarely make mistakes and compose easily publishable work in a short time,” committee member Aaron Cole, one of the lead organizers, said. “This reading is meant to show that this is not always the case. We still create work that is not always of acceptable quality and have to deal with rejection, making writing a task that requires dedication and perseverance.”
The Student Engagment Committee hopes that audience members left the session understanding that writing is a recursive process—and that publication is possible, even for undergraduates. Panelists’ stories of rejection showed that achieving publication requires the ability to receive feedback well and revise effectively, Cole said.
And he hopes students come away inspired to publish their own work. “In addition to a focus on the revision stage, I believe students will also learn a little about publication as a goal for composition,” he said. “Undergraduate composition students are not typically concerned with formally publishing their work, making publication seem like an alien process, but this event will provide some insight to the possibility of publication as a realistic goal.”
Most importantly, Cole said, emerging writers must persevere. “Do not stop writing,” he said. “It can seem daunting when you spend countless hours composing a piece, searching for a publication outlet, and preparing a submission only to receive a rejection, but rejection must be viewed as another piece of the writing process in which you take any criticism you receive as an opportunity to revise and improve on your work to learn and produce texts that can help others learn.”