Writing Drill Sergeant’s Post-Rejection Motivators

Inside my head and heart reside Writing Drill Sergeant and Writing Saboteur.
They don’t get along. Especially after a manuscript rejection.

Writing Saboteur: “Another rejection . . . This is hard.”

Sniffle.

Writing Drill Sergeant: “Waa. Waa. Waa. How many rejections have you collected? 200? 300?”

“No.”

“100?”

“No.”

“More than 50?”

“Well . . . no.”

“You’re pathetic.”

“Still . . . rejection sucks. Can’t I just greet people at Wal-Mart?”

“Get your wimpy, people-pleasing self back in the ring.”

“Don’t make me write today. I’d rather bury my face in a Dairy Queen supersized Capuccino Heath Butterfinger Blizzard and cry.”

“Get. In. The CHAIR!”

“Wait–I need to pee first.”

“Hurry up.”

“And eat just a little chocolate.”

“Don’t test me.”

“Can’t you say something encouraging?”

“Drill sergeants don’t encourage. They motivate. Here’s a list of quotes.”

“You made a list–for me?”

“Anything to get you to stop whining.”

WRITING DRILL SERGEANT’S POST-REJECTION MOTIVATORS

1. ROCKY

Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone): “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that.”

2. ROCKY II

Trainer Micky Goldmill (Burgess Meredith): “For a 45-minute fight, you got to train hard for 45,000 minutes.”

3. A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN

Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks): “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard … is what makes it great.”

Or: Jimmy Dugan: “Are you crying? Are you crying? There’s no crying. There’s no crying in writing (baseball)!”

“I know you watch a lot of movies, but do you have any literary motivators–ones who use their inside voice?”

4. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Harper Lee)

Atticus Finch: “but sometimes we have to make the best of things, and the way we conduct ourselves when the chips are down…”

5. CHARLOTTE’S WEB (E.B. White)

While Wilbur waits for the spiders: “Life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or to hatch.”

6. WINNIE THE POOH (A. A. Milne)

Piglet: “Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?”
“Supposing it didn’t,” said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.

7. THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD (Watty Piper)

Little Engine: “I think I can. I think I can.”

“How about something more recent?”

8. THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING (Ashley Spires)

The bad feelings are about to start all over again. Then she (a regular girl) notices something surprising. There are some parts of the WRONG things that are really quite RIGHT. . . . By the time she reaches the end of the trail, she finally knows how to make the thing MAGNIFICENT. She gets to work.

“Writing Drill Sergeant, you’re really kind of a softie.”

“Shut up and type.”

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

MockingbirdCoverbySarahJColemanYoung Adult Fiction

Age Range:
12 years-adult

Grade Level:
Jr. High & up

Published by HarperCollins

Copyright © 1960 by Harper Lee

AWARDS

Pulitzer Prize, 1961
Alabama Academy of Honor, 2001
Honorary Doctorate, University of Notre Dame, 2006
Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2007

WHY TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD IS A KEM GEM

KKRISTI’S TAKE
It’s no wonder that Harper Lee’s, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, is an American classic. Her coming of age YA novel addresses the moral nature of human beings through the eyes of innocent children. Thanks to a stranger coming to town, Dill, who brings all the thrill, we see both the good and the evil in Maycomb County.

Harper Lee has put into prose a warning to the reader: Beware of false accusations.  The morally good Atticus, reminds us of this when he has a heart to heart with Scout, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” when discussing how Scout is teased about gender and cautions against using fists to solve problems.  The novel weaves so many themes: small town, the south, social justice, community.  But most of all, the true gems are the characters. And to use Atticus’ flattery, Lee’s spot-on dialogue is a marvelous moral compass for the reader to navigate our modern day cruelties, in a global world where the pull between good and evil still lurk in the night.

KEM Sapphire

EELISE’S TAKE
Reading this book for the first time as an adult left me wishing that more adults would read it. It’s often talked about as a children’s book, and for good reason. Lee masterfully exposes bigotry and hypocrisy for the ugly diseases they are among the hearts of mankind and young Scout Finch provides a safe vantage point for such heavy topics.

However, MOCKINGBIRD is by no means a book leveled only at young readers. The narrator is a thoughtful, observant child within the story, but her musings as a narrator contain maturity that only time and experience can produce. Its tragically timeless themes aren’t going away any time soon. I found Lee’s tremendous, solo work a compelling refresher on decency and compassion towards my neighbor, no matter our differences.

Favorite line
“But I never figured out how Atticus knew I was listening, and it was not until many years later that I realized he wanted me to hear every word he said.” ~ Scout Finch

 KEM Diamond


MGrayMARRAS’ TAKE
Harper Lee stands out as a pioneer  writing genius who broke every rule of the story-telling trade. She held a floodlight to the ugliest social dynamics of her time and blew the cover off America’s more subtle snobbery. She dared to educate generations of adults through the narrative voice of a child. Then she did something even more absurd. She created a young protagonist, Scout Finch, who was astonishingly independent, wise, articulate—and female.

Recommending this book as a KEM GEM may seem like a no-brainer. But we’d do a disservice if we didn’t. If you haven’t read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, slide it to the top of your bucket list. It’ll make you want to hug a defense lawyer, visit a shut-in, resolve a human rights violation, and become a better person—after you roll down the street in a tire.

Favorite line
“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” ~ Atticus Finch

GEMrub

One can see Lee’s influence in other written-for-adult, court room drama masterpieces; for instance, John Grisham’s A Time to Kill and Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men. In fact, I’m certain Matthew McConaughey studied Peck’s Atticus before playing Jake Tyler Brigance in A Time to Kill, the movie.

to-kill-a-mockingbird-trailer-title-cardAtticusFinchAtticusandScout
If you’ve read the book, I highly recommend watching To Kill A Mockingbird Movie1962) the movie as well. You’ll see why Gregory Peck’s performance gained him the honor of the American Film Institute’s #1 hero in 100 yearsAnd you’ll marvel that Mary Badham (Miss Jean Louise Finch) had no acting experience prior to her starring performance.
Random facts about To Kill a Mockingbird

  • In a 2006 survey of librarians, To Kill a Mockingbird ranked first in their list of books you should read before you die.
  • TKAM is loosely autobiographical. Nelle Harper Lee DillofTKAMfashioned  Atticus after her own attorney father.
  • Mr. Lee unsuccessfully defended a black father and son accused of a murder;  rendering him unable to save them from execution by hanging.
  • The book character, Dill, (Charles Baker Harris), was inspired by Harper Lee’s neighbor and best friend, Scout-Mockingbird_lTruman Capote (Truman
    Streckfus Persons).
  • Harper Lee served as research assistant for Truman Capote’s best-selling novel In Cold Blood.
  • Scout Finch continues to rank as one of America’s favorite movie tomboys.
  • Lee received support to write TKAM through the generosity HarperLeeand encouragement of bene-
    factors, Michael and Joy Brown.
  • The 1960’s novel, translated in 40 different languages, has over 30 million copies in circulation.
  • Harper Lee loved the TKAM screenplay–a testament to her humility.
  • Miss Lee once threw her manuscript out a window–proof that she was, in fact, human.
  • A classic movie line: “Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passing.” ~ Reverend Sykes.
  • A fun surprise: the young Robert Duvall.

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