Daisy's World: Return to sender...my column was rejected

The original column I wrote for this week was rejected. 

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The original column I wrote for this week was rejected.
  • It was thrown out, wholesale, nothing could be salvaged from the paragraphs I had painstakingly taken my time to write.

The original column I wrote for this week was rejected. It was thrown out, wholesale, nothing could be salvaged from the paragraphs I had painstakingly taken my time to write.

In journalism, an article can be rejected for a number of reasons. Lack of depth, lack of proof, or a story is not objective – and of course, the bad habit of dubbing (plagiarism).

The call came on Tuesday, around 7pm. I had had lunch with the editor that day. A sumptuous burger, over a hearty conversation at Art Cafe. It was her treat.

We finished with a parting promise to have our next lunch at CJs because they have nice virgin mojitos. When her call came in, I was excited.

Could be my Luhya genes, but something in me said she wanted to tell me the date for the CJs burger has been confirmed. However, the quiet music playing on my laptop became blurred as the editor explained on the phone that I would need to write a fresh column for this week.

I know what you are asking. “Kwani what was the column about?” I had written about an incident where I got into a matatu with some guys who looked like thugs.

Well, I wasn’t robbed. The piece I submitted lacked depth. It lacked a clear outcome regarding what I was writing about and didn’t at least measure up to previous columns I have written.

My stress levels started shooting. Uncertainties have a way of unsettling me. In journalism, deadlines are sacred. So I had to quickly wrap my head around writing another column, within the obviously short time.

But the jolly, ‘can-do’ side of me said, “Daisy, there are dozens of things you can write about, including this very incident!” And so here we are. What I was facing was an emergency in the journalism world.

And the more I thought about it, the more it looked like an opportunity to stretch and learn something new… like “how to thrive in chaos”, well, that’s exaggerated, but you get the idea? After silently crying and doubting if I was qualified to be a columnist, I knew I had to write a new column for this Friday.

This incident reminded me of a call I got from my graduate school supervisor. I was at the tail end of writing my thesis. Because of Covid-19, our meetings had been virtual, including my proposal defense.

I asked her why a virtual meeting was not an option in that instance. She said it is important that she relays the information in person.

My conclusion was as good as yours. It was bad news, and that is why she needed to see me in person. I was sure there was a fundamental error with my thesis, everything had been recalled and I had to start over.

That trip from Fedha (now you know where I stay) to USIU-A (now you also know where I did my master’s) was the longest in all my two years as a student. I climbed walls and crossed oceans, trying to think up new research ideas and write a concept note in my head in under an hour.

Quitting school was not an option. I entered her office and while she was asking me how my Spring break was (we have that in USIU-A, don’t shoot me, lol!) my mind was like “I know this is bad. I have several other topics you can help me choose from.”

It turned out to be the shortest meeting I had ever had with my supervisor. Didn’t last anything more than ten minutes.

“…After careful examination, and as your supervisor, it is my considered opinion that you have done a good job and you are ready for your final defense…”

We are bound to face uncertainties in life. Whether that means perfectly laid out plans going awry, or a piece you put your all in not meeting a thresh-hold like in my case.

But a positive attitude can get us through anything. Even if it means staying up late until 1am to write this column anew after the first one got rejected :)

The writer is the impact editor, NMG; [email protected]