Reading the obituaries. I remember that my grandmother used to check the obits in our local paper before she would read anything else. I attributed the habit to senior citizens as a whole and, perhaps, to the attitude that if you checked the obituaries and didn’t find your name listed there, well, your day was going okay. I have, however, begun checking the obituaries with more frequency myself. True, I am getting older now too and high school and college classmates have begun to turn up there a little more frequently. What I have come to actually enjoy, though, is finding the stories of unique people whose tales should be shared.
One such story, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, belongs to the late Dick Wimmer, a creative-writing teacher and author whose first novel, Irish Wine, was rejected 162 times by publishers and agents over a 25 year period before making it into print. There are many reports of literary classics that had to run a gauntlet of rejections before their qualities were recognized. Gone With the Wind was turned down a reported 38 times before it was published; but, I was unable to find any other author who’s tenacity rivals Mr. Wimmer’s.
Mr. Wimmer taught writing at a score or more of colleges in his lifetime and enjoyed some success as the editor of a couple of sports books. As the rejection letters piled up for Irish Wine, he became determined that his novel, if ever published, would see print solely on its own literary merit and not as some curiosity. His faith in his work was eventually rewarded and he even wrote two more novels that became part of the Irish Wine Trilogy. So, did getting that first book published hasten the publication of the others? Sort of. The second of those, Boyne’s Lassie, was turned down only 83 times before being published.
The next time you’re wondering what you should read next, think about Dick Wimmer and his admirable spirit and determination. Then come to the library and check out Irish Wine. We still own one copy.