This weekend Leah and I have lived in North Carolina for a year. There are many things I could reflect upon, given the anniversary, but when I think back, what comes most to mind is rejection. Now, things a year ago with Leah were going great—she wasn’t the one rejecting me. And things with the move were going great, too; it was wonderful to be done with graduate school, being in a new area was fun, and the weather was excellent. Yet a year ago I was getting rejected from jobs like crazy, and stories I was sending off weren’t landing, either. Rejection doesn’t always have to be negative, however, and I’m very thankful for last April.
I moved to Greensboro with Leah, who got a job here as a dietitian. I was happy to come, and I was really excited for the challenge of seeking employment in an area where I had absolutely no connections. I started looking for work by applying to English teaching jobs I found posted online, and when I ran out of postings I cold called schools (actually, I “cold emailed,” if that is a term). I asked over and over again if places would accept my resume, and I touted my experience teaching at the University of New Mexico and in Korea. Not to say I was a catch, because I didn’t have a teaching license, but oftentimes these things can be worked out.
Now the figure: I applied to 91 jobs. Seriously—I just added them all up. Eventually I got one, and have been happy ever since. Applying for jobs, though a little arduous, doesn’t take up all of the time in a day, so until I had my paperwork for subbing—and in between sub jobs—I wrote and sent out short stories. This is something I first started doing in 2010, and something I wish I had been able to keep up in graduate school. However, time in New Mexico was busy, and between teaching/studying and dating my future wife, writing took a backseat. But I finally got back into it in 2016, and besides reading and being a house-boyfriend/fiance, that was my spring.
So now the figure for that: if you add up every story I sent off between 2010 and now, my total rejections is at 257. By the way, I use Excel to keep track of all these things, and also, if you were curious until two months ago I had exactly one story published. Honestly, the numbers for jobs-applied-to and stories-submitted don’t count any of the schools or magazines I researched only to not contact, after figuring out they weren’t good fits. Was any of this a waste of time? Writing takes practice, and when I look back at the first story I got published, it makes me cringe just a little—it needs serious editing. Getting it published was a lot of fun though.
You can read it here, but warning: it’s about 4,500 words long, and about mice. Now what about the job searching? Well, I think it helped me develop my resume and email skills, and it helped me get better at interviews. A year ago I wasn’t sad, but I was a little anxious, hoping everything would work out—and enough so that I even checked out a position a school four hours away, worried that I couldn’t find one local. I would have had a lot of writing time on weekdays if I had taken that job! But luckily I got a job here, and I think it’s good to look back periodically and understand that most things do work out over time. Here’s to another year!
–Jeff and Leah