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When the Filter Fails

My backlit watch read 4:55.

Five more minutes, I thought.

I closed my eyes and immediately drifted back into a deep, dream-filled sleep. Just as I did, the alarm went off.

Isn't that how it is? On a day when you don't have to get up, you can't sleep. But on a day when you must get up, you could sleep for hours.

I groped for my glasses and shuffled into the kitchen. The coffeemaker responded immediately to my touch and began gurgling water across the coffee grounds in the filter and dripping the rich, dark brew into the carafe.

After my eyes had adjusted to the gradually brightening lamp, I filled my favorite mug with joe and plopped into my recliner for a little quiet and productive devotional time. I opened my Bible and took a deep draught from my mug.

Suddenly, I was wide awake!

No, it wasn't the caffeine-rich boldness of the Folgers Black Silk that did the magic. It was a mouthful of coffee grounds on my tongue and lips. I looked into the liquid in my mug and discovered a sea of floating grounds. That many more had already drowned and sunk to the bottom. Upon examination of the coffeemaker, I discovered that one side of the filter had collapsed, allowing the grounds to float directly into the carafe rather than being filtered out.

I spent the next 10 minutes refiltering my coffee to remove all those grounds. Now the rest of my day would be off-schedule!

Sometimes a similar thing can happen with our writing. How we respond can make the difference between success and failure.

In fact, it did happen to me earlier this week. Months ago, I had written a short article on spec for a publication. I followed their guidelines for topic, word count, etc., and submitted it. Then the response came back. Rejected!

I could have bemoaned my rejection and succumbed to defeat. But I've been rejected - and published - enough to know better than to do that. Sure, I was disappointed. But it wasn't the end of the world. I'll just "get out a clean, unused filter," revise the article to fit a different market, and resubmit it. No use crying over a failed coffee filter. Just brew another carafe full and get on with your day.

Never let a minor setback become a major defeat for you. Persevere. Analyze possible reasons for the rejection. Make the necessary changes. And keep writing.

Now I've got to go brew some more coffee. And this time I'll be more careful about how I insert the filter!

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Joy Neal Kidney
Joy Neal Kidney
Oct 16, 2020

The timing of your story. goosebumps The Des Moines Register published an essay I'd just sent, after ignoring one from a couple of weeks ago. I almost didn't send this one, so was a nice surprise.

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