Learning from Rejection: A Story of Redemption
Due adjusted the basket hanging from the crook of her elbow before putting her paw on the doorknob on the front door of her home. After being let off early from work, she was excited to spend the day working on her arts and crafts. As soon as she opened the door, however, she smelled the distinctive, salty scent of jelly tinged tears. She tried to put it out of her mind as she began to pull her hood off to place it on the coat rack. However, before she could even pull the hood off of her head, she heard the muffled, blubbering sobs of her younger sister. She took a deep breath before making her way into the kitchen.
Due was more than happy to console her sisters, especially since she had so much energy from a slow day at the bakery. However, she was always worried that she wouldn’t be able to console them. And, as luck had it, her jelly shoyru sister was the hardest to console.
The translucent purple shoyru was sitting with her head pressed against the table, her tears forming a sticky puddle around her head and matting her black wig with what was essentially sugar water.
Before the shoyru could notice Due, the usul began to assess the situation to the best of her ability. There were letters scattered all over the table and a pen piercing the shoyru’s paw. The pen didn’t concern Due, however, because that was the only way her little sister was able to write in a manner that was even remotely legible. It didn’t hurt the shoyru at all, as the jelly very easily gave way and quickly repaired itself after the pen was taken out.
“Maradita . . .” Due slowly made her way to the shoyru and put her paw on her shoulder, “What’s wrong?”
Maradita looked up from her puddle of tears, her lip quivering. She sat up and looked down at the papers on the table. Half of them were soaked through with the purple liquid. Due found a letter that wasn’t touched by the tears and began to read it. She slowly touched her paw to her mouth as she realized why her sister was sobbing.
“Oh.” Due set down the paper and picked up another. It was the same thing. A rejection letter from the Neopian Times.
Due began to pick up more papers and scan them. She noticed a trend. In the beginning, the notices were simply the standard form with notes on why it couldn’t be published. At first they were simply pointing out that no one at The Times could read the stories as the handwriting was too terrible. After Maradita’s handwriting had improved to a half decent level, the notices began to be more specific. Simple things like grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Due glanced back at the table. She hadn’t realized that letters were layered beneath other letters. She picked up more and gasped when she read the first line of some of the later rejections. It was simply, in all capital letters, ‘PLEASE. STOP.’
Due glanced over at Maradita, who had went back to pressing her head against the table. She looked back at the letters in her paws. Each rejection was shorter and shorter than the last until it was simply a paper with two words. ‘PLEASE. STOP.’
Due took a deep breath before realizing that the jelly soaked letter next to Maradita would probably be what set her off. She carefully picked it up from the table as to not rip it and slowly began to read it.
After one paragraph, she lowered the paper and simply asked her sister, “Is Sue home?”
Maradita let out one small ‘uh-huh’ as Due raced out of the kitchen and into Sue’s room.
Sue was curled up in a ball on her bed, finally sleeping after a week of battling and training. As much as Due hated to disturb her, she needed help. Due put her paw on the pirate xweetok’s back and quickly rocked her.
Sue groggily looked up at Due and sighed. Sue had trained herself to not be angry when she was woken up from a deep sleep. Mostly because Due had trained her sisters to never go near Sue’s bedroom unless it was an emergency. Sue sat up and yawned. “Medical or emotional emergency?”
Due sighed, “Emotional. I’m sorry to wake you but . . .”
“Why are you holding purple paper?” Sue yawned again, pulling a pillow close to her. “It’s Maradita?”
“Yes, well, she’s upset,” Due sighed, “Because the editor at the Neopian Times sent her a very, well, mean rejection letter.”
“Lennington,” Sue nodded, “He’s a lenny. What do you expect?”
“Why do you hate lennies so much?” Due paused and remembered why she had woken up her sister. She continued on with the topic at hand, “Well, the problem is that . . .”
Sue sighed, “The problem is that it was really mean and she can’t handle it?”
“No, no,” Due held out the paper for Sue to read, “It’s that it’s true.”
Sue reached for the lamp beside her bed and clicked it on. She took the paper and began to read out loud, “Please. STOP. Maradita, you most likely know that by the laws codified by Queen Fyora and enforced by the Library Faerie I am required to read every entry and give each entry an equal amount of consideration.”
Sue glanced up at Due. Due simply nodded for Sue to continue, “And I have given each of your entries as much consideration as possible. Even when your writing was closer in appearance to the archaic language of the Lost Desert, I called every employee and intern at The Neopian Times to try and decipher it in case that the story was worth reading. We couldn’t. So I told you that. And you did your best! Your handwriting improved! And we at The Neopian Times are proud of you. But please stop.” Sue paused and looked up at Due again. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before looking down at the letter and reading over it again. After reading through it, she looked up at Due and sighed, “It is true, and I understand why they would be so harsh.”
“I didn’t get any farther than that. . .” Due sighed, “What does it say next?”
“Well, summed up quickly, she writes horrible stories with poor grammar and completely inane plots and submits around three to five every week,” Sue handed the paper back to Due, “And while she listens to everything they tell her . . . She either can’t execute it or misunderstands it entirely. For example, she actually wrote a story where ‘Blank Sloth’ and the Space Faerie go to the Lost Desert to have a tea party with ‘Cold Sand.’”
“Why . . . would she do that?” Due stared with a strange mix of horror and confusion.
“Well, she wrote stories about characters named ‘Chia.’ Well, stories where there was ‘Blue Chia’, ‘Other Blue Chia’, and ‘Red Chia’,” Sue’s expression was completely blank, “So they told her ‘If you can’t think of names, use real Neopians!’ And she did. But then they told her, ‘Please don’t do that. Please don’t write a story where Dr. Sloth and The Space Faerie have disjointed conversations about how much they love living in the Haunted Woods while you confuse King Coltzan with King Skarl.’”
“Do we support her?” Due sighed, “Because I don’t want to look her in the face and tell her that she should stop.”
“Well, being pragmatic is always the best option in the long run,” Sue sighed, “But I don’t want to tell her to stop.”
Due looked down at her paws.
There was silence as Sue waited for Due’s solution.
“I know what to do.”
Due made her way into the kitchen. Sue followed her. Due put her hand on Maradita’s shoulder and smiled brightly. “Maradita, we’re going to get you into The Neopian Times!”
Maradita looked up with a giant smile, “Really?!”
“Really!” Due pulled Maradita up from the chair and pulled her into a warm embrace. -----
Months passed as Due and Maradita worked tirelessly to craft a story that was cohesive and well written. Sue would look over the drafts and rewrite them in her superior handwriting. What took so long was Due doing her best to not talk over Maradita and to let her take the story where she wanted it to go . . . Until something like King Altador and The Darkest Faerie entering a ballroom dance contest together came up. On those many occasions, Due would gently guide the story in another direction.
After many long nights of revisions, they had finally submitted something that the whole family could be proud of.
One bright and sunny day, there was a knock on the door. Maradita rushed to the door, expecting it to be the mail chia. However, it was a tall, imposing lenny on the other side of the door.
“Maradita!” The lenny pulled the jelly shoyru into an embrace, “You did it!”
Maradita gasped when she realized who it was. Lennington, the editor of The Neopian Times. Lennington gently placed Maradita back on the floor and smiled brightly, “I’m sorry I was so harsh, but it was my harsh words that finally taught you how to write well!” He held out a letter and a trophy, “You did it! You’re going to be published!”
Maradita let out a shriek of excitement, “You mean . . . ?!”
Lennington laughed, “Yes, Maradita, you’re finally in The Neopian Times. Your story about King Altador was fantastic! I had to share it with everyone else!”
Maradita smiled brightly as she took her trophy and the acceptance letter.
“Keep writing, Maradita,” Lennington gave a nod as he turned to leave. He looked over his shoulder to tell her one last thing, “You’re proof that anyone can follow their dreams if they just work hard enough.”
After he left, Maradita closed the door and grinned. She whispered to herself, “No . . . anyone can follow their dreams if they have a family that believes in them.”