We publish work from writers at all stages of their writing lives—some just starting out, and others who’ve been at it for decades. Some come back to NER frequently, and others we never hear from again. In the past year or so, we published new stories by Mary Clark (“Many of the Men,” 38.1) and Merrie Snell (“Shipwreck Stories,” 39.1), two writers who’d published in NER in the nineties and whom we hadn’t heard from since. What were they up to during those years between publications? Were they still writing? Why the long gap?
Our fortieth anniversary seemed like a good time—or maybe just a good excuse—to reach out to Mary and Merrie and get the stories behind their stories. With just a few basic questions to get them started, they entered into a conversation about persistence and self-reliance, strategies for overcoming rejection, and the many ways of being a writer in the world.
Mary Clark says, “My little trick to deal with rejection is similar to how I handle rejection in dating: have another iron in the fire, so if an agent rejects your novel you’re like, That’s okay I’m seeing my new novel now anyway.”
And from Merrie: “I’ve still got a demon who visits now and then and hectors me with the negative inflection of ‘who cares,’ but I’ve learned to apply the question responsibly, productively. A demon thwarted can be a valuable thing.”