Sunday, April 16, 2017

What’s Meant to Be Will Be

On Tuesday April 18, Chicken Soup for the Soul will release its latest book in the series, Chicken Soup for the Soul: An Inspiration for Teachers. And I am one of the 101 contributors.
 I am a writer with dreams of being featured in publications with worldwide recognition, and now that dream has come to fruition. It began with an idea in my head, and I went for it. Even after rejection and missed deadlines over the years, I was still determined to get my work into a widely recognized publication. 

Years ago, I submitted a piece to Essence magazine, and an editor called me while I was at work. I called back on my lunch, but was unable to speak with her. Shortly, thereafter I received a nice rejection letter in the mail. Something went wrong. I knew that I hadn’t been called only to be rejected. That’s not how this works. For a long time, the incident haunted me. I had come close to being published in a magazine that I read faithfully from cover to cover every month. Periodically I’d think about submitting, but wouldn’t follow through.

I went on to get published in Black-Eyed Peas for the Soul—Tales to Strengthen the African American Spirit and Encourage the Heart—my first anthology! I thought I was on my way. A triathlon teammate sent an email that Chicken Soup for the Soul was doing a book for African Americans with Lisa Nichols as the editor. The woman who sent me the email knew Lisa personally. There was no guarantee that I’d be accepted, but at least I had a contact. What did I do? Missed the deadline! I kept thinking I had more time than I did. I could have kicked myself. Like the Essence incident, this too bothered me for a long time. 

I continued to write and get published in anthologies. From time to time I would check to see what was coming up in the Chicken Soup series. Even the ones that were of interest to me, I wouldn’t sit down and write. I didn’t know why. Was I afraid that my writing wasn’t good enough for Chicken Soup? I didn’t make it into Essence.

Then last summer, I saw that Chicken Soup was accepting admissions for Chicken Soup for the Curvy Soul and Chicken Soup for Teachers. I submitted to both. I received a letter saying that my piece for the Curvy Soul was being looked at for possible acceptance. I was ecstatic! Almost there. Surely, this would not be a repeat of making it to the finish line, but not crossing? It was. I got my nice rejection letter in the mail. Since I hadn’t heard from anyone regarding the Chicken Soup for Teachers piece, I figured I was out of the running. I was down, but now out. I kept checking to see what other titles in the series were on the horizon to try again.

Then I received another letter regarding my teacher piece. It was being considered. I was excited but scared. What if this one was rejected, too? Maybe my writing wasn’t good enough. Then lo and behold I got the letter saying my piece had been accepted. I was in such a hurry to give them permission to publish that I forgot to sign the contract! 

I never saw the email saying that I had not signed until 8 pm, and I don’t have a fax machine at home. I fired off a quick email, jumped in the car and went to the nearest Staples. I faxed the contract and sent an email to the editor. The following morning I called to make sure she received it; She did! And I have been walking in the clouds ever since. It’s such an honor to be featured in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book and especially one about teaching. It’s another way to help people—like Chicken Soup helps people. I love being a teacher!

In 1993, motivational speakers Jack Canfield and Mark Victor started Chicken Soup for the Soul following requests for the stories that they shared.” As Jack and Mark traveled, people constantly asked if the stories they related had been published. So, Jack and Mark set out to do just that. 

According to the website, they began with a “simple idea that people could help each other by sharing stories about their lives. They compiled the top 101 stories and pitched them to the major publishing houses in New York. They were rejected. It was a small publisher in Florida who decided to give Jack and Mark a chance, and the rest they say is history.

The first book sold 11 million copies and a second helping of Chicken Soup was born. There are 250+ titles in the series with more than 500 million copies worldwide. The books have been translated into 43 languages and published in over 100 countries. Chicken Soup for the Soul is more than a series of books. It’s a brand. 

Jack and Mark sold Chicken Soup to William Rouhana and Amy Newark (husband and wife) and Robert Jacobs in 2008.  In addition to its best-selling titles, Chicken Soup also carries a line of wholesome foods--for people and their pets. They are currently working on a TV show and a major motion picture. There are aps. I couldn’t have asked for a better national platform to debut my work. In additional to inspirational stories, they donate to a number of worthy causes. Their socially consciousness matches my socially conscious advocacy. 

Just like Chicken Soup for the Soul is “changing the world one story at a time,” I am changing the world one student at a time. It's no accident that we are in this together.  This was definitely meant to be.