Of Moonbows and Rejection Letters

On Friday June 13th, on a sudden impulse, I dragged four people to Yosemite Falls to watch a moonbow, the lunar version of a rainbow.

I told them that two ingredients are indispensable for a successful moonbow recipe:

1- A Full Moon

2- Water

I easily convinced everyone that Friday was a good pick because the moon had been full the night before.

Unlike a recipe that calls for optional ingredients, the recipe to see a moonbow includes a mandatory component that I ignored. I treated the detailed information like I disregard fine print. Or rejection letters.

 

We entered the park around 8:00 PM, chose a great picnic area overlooking Yosemite Falls. My friend had made California chicken salad sandwiches. Her husband uncorked a bottle of champagne, the appropriate drink when nature brings you to your knees. I had baked a strawberry cake. Between the lively conversations, the candles we had lit, the stars, and the full moon, we were in a celebratory mood.

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Around 10:30 PM, after a cup of coffee, we walked to the bridge that faces the falls. About forty photographers had already settled with their cameras and tripods. Some people were playing and climbing around the falls, impossible after a regular rainy season. The song Dark Side of the Moon rose from an iPod. A group of small children spoke in hushed voices. Occasional laughter and giggles cut through the night.

From behind the tress, the moon watched over us, casting a luminous glow on faces and rocks alike.

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Around midnight, the photographers gathered behind their cameras, ready for action.

The moon seemed to pose like a star on the red carpet, ready for the perfect shot.

I craned my neck toward the water and widened my eyes.

Snap. Shot. Snap. Shot.

On the rocks and water, the faint outline of a grey bow. Luminous. Elusive. A dream?

The photographer who had been standing nearby for the last hour started to pack his gear.

“Did you see anything?” I asked him.

“Tonight wasn’t the best,” he said, setting his camera back on the tripod. The photo he took, however, showed a distinct rainbow, not as stunning as I had hoped, still gorgeous.

“Look the one I took last month,” the photographer added.

“Woah!” I exclaimed. “So how do you explain the difference?”

“The falls are lower. There is no wind, no mist rising from the water,” he explained. “Still a beautiful night, isn’t?” He threw his bag on his shoulder and walked away toward the campground. He had to stay overnight before driving back to the Bay Area and envied us for living so close.

Envious? I thought. Really?

My friends had never been in Yosemite at night. A dinner at the foot of the falls, under the stars and the full moon was awesome for them.

I’ve been in Yosemite late at night, even hiking at night, so I was disappointed.

My friends suggested a short walk through the valley. Later as we drove home, they offered to stop so we could admire the cast of the moon on Half Dome.

I was still sulking.

People saw a perfect moonbow in May. Why not me?

When we reached home, I apologized to my friends for the missed opportunity. They insisted that it had been a gorgeous night and so much fun to have dinner together.

I agreed and moved on, beyond my frustration.

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Yesterday I had dinner with my writing friends. One of them had been to Yosemite in May and said the moonbow was extraordinary on the day of the full night.

“You saw the moobow?” I exclaimed.

“Weren’t the pale light on the rocks and water so gorgeous?”

Yes, it was really beautiful. A natural color and light hard to describe, and I suspect hard to reproduce on a canvas, too.

“But it wasn’t a moonbow,” I insisted.

“You need a great camera,” my friend went on. “A tripod. The right spot. And a lot of patience.”

I finally realized that my human eye could only see the pale grey arc. Only through the lens of a camera, set a certain way, under certain conditions someone can admire a moonbow.

I know that nobody can force nature to do tricks to accommodate our schedules. Storms, snow, ice or rain, have occasionally impacted some of my outdoorsy plans. So, despite my disappointment, I had finally accepted that I couldn’t ask the moon to pose, summon rain to fill the falls or beg the wind to blow to trigger a moonbow.

It was much harder to accept that I came unprepared and to admit that the ingredient I disregarded was in fact crucial.

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Today, in an effort to minimize my clutter, I went through my writing files and found rejections letters I’ve accumulated over the years.

Some were flat and totally impersonal. Like a dull thank you note with no genuine sincerity. I dumped them in the garbage can. Not even worthy of the recycling bin.

Most were kinder. I put them aside. Small, nice words of encouragement go a long way.

A few letters had been written with the understanding that rejection hurts. I read them again. In addition to being “nice rejections,” I realized that they contained valuable information and even specific comments about the manuscript I submitted.

When I received such letters, I just read the word NO, tucked the letter away with the manuscript, and started a new story.

To avoid the natural pain that accompanies rejection, it isn’t a bad idea to move on and brainstorm a new project. Yet I shouldn’t have dismissed pieces of advice that could have pushed me to embrace a deeper revision and perhaps led to an acceptance letter, farther down the road. I’m not implying that all positive rejections are an invitation to submit again, but I should have given them more attention.

As for the moonbow, I will have to wait until spring 2015, since the Yosemite Falls will dry out early this year.

 

If you want to know more about this natural phenomenon, the website from University Texas is the place to start.

To admire gorgeous photos and get specific advice on how to take pictures of moonbows you can click here and here.

To read more about the  moonbow, celebrating rejection, and perseverance.

 

 

P.S. A few of my favorite picture books for the upcoming full moon:

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

And a classic for adults: Paris, The Moon by Adam Gopnik.

 

Now, your turn…

Do you sometimes dismiss important information?

Have you ever seen a moonbow?

How do you deal with rejection?

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Heart Kindling says:

    I have never heard about a moonbow before. It’s great to learn something new! It sounds like you had a great night with your friends under the stars anyway. I think sometimes when we have a ‘plan’ in our heads of how things should go, we neglect to see the great things that are actually happenning just because we planned for something else 😉

    • Actually, you’ve got a point here. This is my usual approach with life. I’m glad you learned something new, I like that too. Thank you for your visit and your wise words.

  2. Great piece, Evelyne. If a moonbow was easy, everyone would have shot one, but sounds like you had a good time. 🙂

    • Thank you, John. I had a great time with my friends, as always. This moonbow thing was intriguing and considering the photos taken by excellent photographs, I will probably try again. The fascinating thing is that our human eye can’t see this lunar rainbow at night.

  3. I like the picnic at night idea. It reminds me of breakfast picnics I used to do with my kids when they were younger. Crowds are much smaller, and those who come enjoy your different approach. 🙂

    • Oh breakfast picnics sound like a great idea! You’re right about the pleasure to enjoy a place when it is less crowded. Yosemite can be a very quiet park when you pick your visits away from major holidays and can make it early morning or late evening. See you soon, Deborah.

  4. I really enjoyed this post. I like how you tied the two threads together and how you handle rejection. Things that don’t turn out well can still be helpful and we can enjoy the effort even if not the result. Good advice.

    I’ve been to Yosemite but during the day, in August, during a drought and I barely saw any water let alone anything stunning. I have accompanied my daughter on several photo shoots, so I am aware of the planning, the equipment and the work that goes into them. I’m also aware of the luck that is still required. You can’t control nature.

    As for rejection. When I was in my 20’s, I tried getting some stories published. No blogs back then, no Internet and most rejection “letters” were strips cut from photocopied sheets of the same message. Some were just the cold hard facts. Some were a bit more compassionate. Even though they sent that compassionate message to everyone, I appreciated the thought.

    • Glad you enjoyed the tie I tried to establish, Dan. About things that don’t go our own way, I think it is one of the hardest things in life… I’m usually pretty flexible and easy going but I really wanted to see that darned moonbow. So, yes, I was a little disappointed.
      As for rejections, they suck! One aspect is better now days. Since editors and agents accept e-mail submissions, the reply is usually quick. So at least there is less time to hope or despair. Either through e-mail or snail mail, a small word of encouragement is always a nice gesture that goes a long way. See you.

  5. Evelyne, I resonate with everything you said. (And I’ve never heard of a moonbow – awesome.)
    Back in the 1990’s when I really started writing, I sent short stories to several magazines. Like you I kept those rejections for a long time. One I will always remember was on a narrow strip of paper with a box checked. I was amazed by how impersonal and uncaring it seemed.
    Now, compared to responses to (9 to 5) job applications that seems like a Hallmark card! 🙂
    Wishing you all good things,
    teagan

    • I’m sure you would be the kind of person to enjoy a moonbow!
      As for rejections, I have also received the narrow strips of paper. I understand that it is the privilege of an editor or agent to pick a piece they like, but a small note is kind. Like your sense of humor about the job application process!!!!

  6. I have always wondered how writers deal with rejections. I’m sure it depends on the person, of course, but it seems that you have to knock on many doors before a manuscript is accepted, regardless of how great it is.

    • Yep, you do need to write a lot, submit often and hope for the best!
      This is why I love blogging so much. I write and I meet people who read me. It keeps me going while I work on longer pieces. See you soon Zhu.

  7. Love this post Evelyne! I’d never heard of a moonbow and I can understand your frustration at not seeing it – it reminds me of a time just recently when the northern lights were seen on the coast just down the road from me (not a common occurrence), but I completely missed them – I was quite devastated. But for me, that picnic under the full moon in Yosemite sounds absolutely wonderful! And you know how I’m dealing with rejection at the moment – thanks so much for the link!

    • Always nice to read you, Andrea. The moonbow intrigued me. Most intriguing things have a way to push me to go and see for myself. In this case, I found out that I needed a good camera, a tripod and patience. I will give it another try! But the dinner was great, you’re right. As for rejections I found it interesting that you had just been writing about the issue, too. In your usual eloquent way, which I love every much. Best to you!

  8. cardamone5 says:

    Dear Evelyne:

    I used to take rejection pretty hard, and sometimes still do (it depends on how mature my mood is!) I try to see the positive and accept the cliche, but true belief that everything happens for a reason, even if that reason doesn’t fit my preconceived notions. It’s easier not to fight the present and roll with it, but, as I say, it depends on how mature I am in a particular moment.

    Fondly, Elizabeth

    • Your response to rejections is very wise, Elizabeth. Like you, I take some better than others. I try to submit as soon as I get a NO! I found out that it helps me to keep writing.
      Abd blogging and interacting with others helps even more. Thank you for your visit.

  9. I can’t recall ever having seen a moonbow, Evelyne.But now I will be on the lookout. Seems like even a small waterfall would work on a full moon night. Have you tried playing with Photoshop photos? That might pull it out. As for rejection letters, a thoughtful comment deserves attention; a standardized reply deserves the wastebasket. –Curt

    • Of all people, Curt, you would love seeing a moonbow. What I have finally understood is that you need a full moon, water, a clear night, and a good camera set on a tripod so the lens can stay open for as long as thirty seconds. Something human eyes can’t do.
      Although I admire the work of photographers, I’m not one. I like to put what I see in words, but sometimes a gorgeous picture is better. Yours are top!
      As for rejection letters, I’ve grown a thicker skin, so as you wrote above, I keep in mind the good ones that keep me going and forget about the rest. I am respectful of editors and agents’ tastes and needs, and totally understand that this is a business too.
      Thank you for stopping by and for your comment. See you!

      • So you can’t see it at all without a camera, Evelyne? By the way, living close to Yosemite has to be a real treat. And thanks for your comments on our photography. It’s play for us.

        I am blown away by how rapidly the publishing is changing. Authors are still expected to have a well written, edited, and sellable book, as it should be. But now, getting in the door past the rejection slips, requires a significant writer’s platform. The vast majority of authors are expected to market their own books. This might not be bad if there were a change in the way royalties are distributed, but there isn’t. It certainly makes self-publising look like a more desirable alternative than it used to be. 🙂 –Curt

  10. I never knew about moonbows. Having a picnic and enjoying Yosemite at night sounds wonderful. Thanks for also weaving in the idea of rejections–and how to have a discerning eye when we see all those letters. (I have a collection of them myself.)

    • Thank you, Jennifer, for visiting me. This moonbow thing was intriguing and based on what I have read and seen on the internet, it is truly a magnificent natural phenomenon, which I hope to see one day…through the lens of a camera. Since writing is always on my mind, I like to tie events of my life to the writing aspect. So I appreciate your appreciation! Thanks also for sharing your own collection of rejection letters. Makes all of us feel better!

  11. Such an interesting post, beautiful scenes and enjoyed learning about a moonbow! Handling rejection? Move on keeping your own goal in front of you . . .

    • Thank you, Mary. I’m glad that few people knew about the moonbow and are as intrigued as I was. As for rejection, you are wise. Keeping the focus is important. Of all people you know that! See you soon.

  12. I have to say Eveylne, I haven’t heard of a moonbow so I found this a fascinating read, and just like you, I would love to see one! Your night at Yosemite sounds magical and I love your line about champagne being the perfect drink ‘when nature brings you to your knees’.
    Just as a little bit of interesting info I found out to share with you, did you know that the full moon on Friday 13th June was a very rare event as a full moon won’t fall on that date again until 2049? You chose the perfect night to have your picnic and even though it didn’t end up the way you hoped, you experienced something wonderfully unique and memorable.
    Lovely post, I am smiling once again with memories of Yosemite, thank you 🙂

    • Thank you, Sherri. I thought that you might know about the moonbow since you’ve lived in CA and went to Yosemite many times. I read about Friday 13th being an exceptional date after going to the park. The only reason I picked that night was because I was free and hoped that the conditions would be good for a moonbow. Actually, I think that the full moon was on the 12th, but because of Friday the 13th, there was some added excitement. The picnic was lovely. The food was great. The champagne is always festive. I’m glad you liked the line about it. The scenery was perfect and the company of my friends matched it. See you soon.

      • Maybe I had heard of a moonbow but had forgotten! It just doesn’t ring any bells! Still, I really enjoyed this post and so glad to know you had such a wonderful time on a truly magical night. See you soon too Eveylne 🙂

  13. I will join you next year on your moonbow adventure!
    It sounds like your Yosemite evening was lovely even without the moonbow. Thank you for sharing your favorite moon books.
    I have also tucked away rejections notes because I just focused on the “no.” I am revisiting these manuscripts and reading the suggestions for revisions. I’m glad to know that I am not alone in this process.

    • It was a lovely night, despite my initial disappointment. I’m in for another one, definitely!
      As for rejections, yes, I wished I had been more willing to reconsider yet another revision on a few manuscrits instead of moving on too quickly on a new piece. But I was also learning so much back then that perhaps it has been better. I wish you good luck to go over the good rejections you got and use some of your summer time to rewrite and submit again. See you soon on your blog.

  14. OH! Lucky, lucky you! A real moonbow…someday I hope to see one for myself!!

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

    • Next time, I will come with a camera that I can settle on its tripod, so I will really see the moonbow. But the night was gorgeous anyway. Thanks, Linda, for stopping by.

  15. I’ve never even heard of a moon bow before! How fun. I’ll have to try catching one now that you taught me.

    Rejection I treat on an individual basis. It’s different every time, so I just try and deal with ti the best I can in that moment.

    • I’m glad I taught you something you didn’t know. You certainly taught me a lot through your blog! As for rejection, yep, it’s probably a healthy approach to deal with it when it comes and move on. See you soon on your blog.

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