Chopped Liver (The Writing Rejection Merry-Go-Round)



“Bubbeleh, is my writing chopped liver???”



This post goes out to all writers who don’t give up on the publishing game.

Lucy and I salute you!imagesI mean….



Recently I emailed an essay to a local magazine that publishes personal essays and poetry. The publication has a special interest in pieces about writing and life in this area. I’ll call it The Banana Slug Gazette. 

Yesterday I read the current issue and chuckled when I recognized two of its writers. These men were members of a gym where I worked as a desk attendant/certified personal trainer in the 1990’s. We had some lively chats at that front desk. Back then, I didn’t know the two members were writers, but they were my favorite kind of member: warm, witty and kind; in other words, they treated me as a person rather than a warm body whose only value was in handing them fresh towels.

I read their pieces, and I thought my writing was at the same level. Clearly none of us had the talent of another local writer, some guy you may have heard of named Jonathan Franzen. I noticed their submissions had nothing  to do with life in Santa Cruz, or writing.

I submitted The Found Girl  to The Banana Slug Gazette because it included (and examined) local references and, most importantly, I believed in it. I thought that my topic of surviving mental illness (a subject I hadn’t noticed covered in the archives of The Banana Slug Gazettemade it a worthwhile read.

A few days ago I received an email from the Gazette editor. She wrote,  

“Thanks for your heartfelt nonfiction submission. It doesn’t fit with our needs right now, but I thought it was very well done.”

Okay, it could have been worse…

But it’s never fun to read an editor’s “thanks, but no thanks”, and by her wording, it was clear that The Found Girl would never fit with the Gazette’s “needs”. I was being let down with faint, insincere praise.

Yes, rejection is a de rigueur experience for any writer. It has happened to me quite a bit, and some of you may recall that I’ve whined blogged about writing rejection here and here.

After reading the Gazette email, I reacted poorly. Apparently I haven’t earned my Writing Rejection Yellow Belt yet! The bottom line was that I felt like my writing wasn’t good enough. Despite my having a literature degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz, landing two book deals and having my articles published over two decades, I felt like my writing sucked and that I sucked too! 

This icky feeling of unworthiness made me want to email the Gazette’s editor and fire off this puuurrfect William Shakespeare invective:


King Lear


My next thought was this: As The Found Girl mentions my struggle with bipolar disorder, I couldn’t help but wonder if mental illness stigma also played a role in my rejection. Could it be that mental illness wasn’t a “deep” enough topic for this small-town literary magazine?

Who knows.




It’s most likely that the editor simply didn’t like my writing. Perhaps my essay was written too informally. But we’re talking about one person who, according to my Google Advanced Search, isn’t a professional editor, agent, or accomplished writer. She’s doing her editorial work as a labor of love; I just wished she loved my essay!

Why did I even want The Found Girl to appear in the Gazette? The magazine isn’t well known – it’s no Tin House or Glimmer Train. However, I really liked the grassroots aspect of it. I wanted to connect with that particular group of writers. I wanted to be published where I live, writing about one of the subjects that’s closest to my heart.

To that end, yesterday I submitted yet another piece to The Banana Slug Gazette, and I won’t stop trying until they publish me or fold! 


In memory of my father Richard David Leshin, violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, May 22, 1927-January 6th, 2009. Dad, I miss you more than words can express.

UnknownDyane & Dad 002

Dad and Dyane, Santa Cruz, 2005. I’m 8 mos. pregnant with Avonlea

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa, will be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2017.



How to Spoil a Vacation in Two Easy Steps!


This clip shows Lucy’s canine calm before her storm. Once she was released from her leash, my collie ran around in circles nearing the speed of light, jumping up every few feet in wild abandon!


How to Spoil a Vacation in Two Easy Steps!

1/ Hang out with your children (who each recently had garden variety colds) the week before taking off for your trip. 

2/ Pick up an icky germ en route to your destination, perhaps when you stopped in that dodgy gas station restroom. The nasty germ will make you sneeze from your nether regions. Ewwwww!

(Yes, according to one of my favorite bloggers Blahpolar Blue, Interrupted I’m the Queen of T.M.I. and I concur with her.)


Now that I’m feeling much better, my trip isn’t spoiled anymore. (I just like to be a sensationalist drama queen in my post titles.)

I wasn’t that sick, but I was miserable. It wasn’t fun for my family to be stuck with me in our small cabin as a foot of snow poured down on Monday. They wisely kept their distance as best as they could. 

Now we’re having a mellow time. The girls are playing in the snow every few hours building snow penguins. They’ve been watching scintillating episodes of My Little Pony, Craig has been playing his guitar, and I’ve been Netflix-binging on Scandal and Game of Thrones. (I have no shame!) 

I also learned something fascinating, albeit freaky, about this area’s history. Craig, an engineering geologist, researched that Lake Tahoe was home to a seiche, or lake-bound tsunami, 40,000 years ago.

I have a deep-seated fear of tsunamis (You can read about it in Earthquakes & Tsunamis of the Soul and How to Move On.)  Craig found a physics-based computer simulation of a Lake Tahoe mega-tsunami (seiche is the correct term, but the video uses “tsunami”) that’s amazing. The simulation’s description says, “The tsunami parented from a massive landslide on the Lake’s west side”.

Guess where we are? Yep – the west side!

This clip is only a couple minutes long, and I think you’ll find it interesting too:


Tomorrow we visit magnificent Squaw Valley to do some last-minute holiday shopping. It’s always a hoot to go there. Great beauty attracts money, and almost everyone but us oozes big bucks.They walk around in fancy ski ensembles; many of them have dogs by their side whose ski ensembles are far nicer than mine!

We’re most likely much happier than they are, right? 😉 Money can’t buy you everything!

Squaw Valley itself is stunning. It was the site for the 1960 Winter Olympics, and apart from its history, there’s something in the air here which I love that’s ineffable.

I have fond memories of Squaw reaching back to 2005 when Avonlea was a baby. I walked around The Village at Squaw Valley with cooing Avi strapped to my chest in her baby wrap. This unforgettable time was back in my pre-bipolar diagnosis days, and I strolled around the shops and paths having no idea what lay in store for our family. 

Now I feel, in a sense, that when I return to Squaw Valley I’ve come full circle. Up here among the lake and snow-covered mountains I remind myself that bipolar disorder wasn’t able to destroy me. It wasn’t able to keep me away from enjoying this beauty.

Take that, bipolar!

For those of you who love all things Disney, Walt Disney himself designed the opening and closing ceremonies for the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics. Disney also used the rock formations from Squaw as his inspiration for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Very cool!


Me & the girls on an old chairlift at The Village at Squaw Valley, 2013

So that’s all the news that’s fit to blog. Now that I’m over my creeping crud, please stay tuned for some Tahoe adventures – if nothing happens, I promise to make something up!

Have a great Wednesday, and remember to breathe during this stressful time.

love, Dyane


Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (author of Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.