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Sunday, September 23, 2012

What do Cynthia Ozick and Snoopy have in common?

Their writing style and experience of  rejection
Cynthia Ozick's response to the routine of rejection from The New Yorker 
in a letter written on January 5, 1962 is one of the discoveries from the magazine's files shared in from It opens just like Snoopy's query letters:

For a number of years now I have been sending you poems, and until very recently I have always found you entirely reliable. Exactly seven days after each new poem has been dropped into the mail, it has come punctually home, accompanied by that little rejection slip of yours marked with the number 1 in the left-hand bottom corner. (You know the one.) You have, as I say, been altogether faithful and dependable. For example, it is never six days, it is certainly never eight or nine days. It is always seven days to the minute, and your conscientious devotion to precision all these years has been matched, to my knowledge, only by the butcher's deliver-boy, whose appearance is also predicated on a seven-day cycle.
This time, however, you have failed me. A poem of mine, entitled "An Urgent Exhortation to His Admirers and Dignifiers: Being the Transcript of an Address Before the Mark Twain Association by Samuel Clemens, Shade," reached you on December 18, 1961, and, though eighteen days have already passed, a daily inspection of my letterbox yields nothing. I have enough confidence in your hitherto clean record of never considering anything I have submitted not to be tempted into the unworthy suspicion that the delay is actually caused by your liking this poem. What has been shattered, I must admit, is my sense of serenity, of certitude, nay, of security — not to mention my sense of rhythm. Does this mean you can no longer be relied on to conform to the seven-day schedule you have consistently adhered to in the past? In short, is the Age of Doubt truly upon us? O tempora!
Or (but I venture this with a cheery hopefulness I do not dare to feel) is it only that you have finally gone and lost my manuscript? I realize I am probably being too sanguine in putting forth this rosy possibility, but I guess I am just basically an optimistic sort. Please reassure me that this, rather than some flaw in your clockworks (even to contemplate which disillusions me hideously), is the real nature of the difficulty.
I expect your answer in seven days.
Seven days later, she must have found herself in Snoopy's position here:
According to Yagoda, there was no answer in the files, though Ozick's stories were, eventually, published by the magazine.

As we know, Ozick went go on to achieve fame as a writer.  Snoopy also achieved fame, though not necessarily for his literary endeavors. Still, his persistence remains an object lesson and inspiration in the book Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life

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