When I initially sat down to compose my “This I Believe” entry about a month and a half ago, I had no idea that it would turn out the way it did. I originally intended to include only the bit about how the removal of my two rotten teeth resulted in the eradication of a major source of poison from my body but by the time I had finished writing the piece a few hours later, it had morphed into what it ended up being.
Judging by the number of hits the page has received and also by the host of complimentary comments posted by readers, a lot of people not only read, but enjoyed, the article. Two people in particular, Dan and Julie, even suggested that I submit the essay to thisibelieve.org . After nosing around the site for a few minutes, I realized that, as a concept and as an entity, This I Believe was a pretty big deal. Here was a place where everyday people could write about what they believed in with the possibility that some of the better essays could be read over the airwaves on npr.
I allowed myself a moment or two (or ten) to immerse myself in the calm, cool waters of the outside chance that my piece could be featured on the radio across the United States and Canada. In my mind I had already convinced myself that I was a shoe in, given my personal back story with the terminal disease and the new baby and everything. I felt like my writing was strong enough and my recent history was compelling enough to at least warrant some serious consideration from the essay evaluators.
In addition to all that jazz, I had a secret weapon in my arsenal as well. You see, at the time I wrote my blog entry and titled it, “This I Believe”, I had absolutely no idea that the radio readings on npr or that the essay archive website even existed, I swear on my life. As far as I was concerned, the fact that I had created something on my own that had matched the exact template of a concept as cool as the This I Believe project, it was my destiny to be chosen.
So I filled out the online form, reformatted my essay as a .txt file (per their instructions), and confidently submitted my work. I was told via a follow up email that their decision would be forthcoming in the next six to eight weeks so I promptly forgot about the whole matter.
Exactly six weeks later I received the email equivalent of the small college application response envelope that you receive when you don’t get in. It read as such:
Dear Jason Picetti:
Thank you for submitting an essay to This I Believe. Your essay has now completed our review process. Though your essay was not chosen for broadcast on NPR, the larger goal of our project is to open a community conversation about belief–one essay at a time. To that end, we have placed your essay in the This I Believe online database.
If you go to our website at www.thisibelieve.org, then click on “Advanced Essay Search,” fill in only your last name in the “Last Name” field. You can also find your essay by searching all essays from your city or state. You will notice that only your first name will be seen on the web page with your essay. We do not publish last names or other personal information on our website.
Please don’t consider this in any way a “rejection.” Our criteria for broadcast consider many factors beyond subjective notions of quality. We air only a fraction of one percent of those submitted, and we must balance our few selections across themes, perspectives, diversity of sources, and so on.
Though your essay has not been selected for NPR, we are working to find other venues to publish some of the many thousands of essays we have received, including newspapers, podcasts, and local public radio stations. Should we find a venue to print or broadcast your essay, one of our staff will be in touch with you.
We are honored by your having shared your most closely held convictions with us. Thank you, sincerely, for participating in our project.
— The staff of This I Believe
I share this information with you all not for the purpose of hoping to solicit a grassroots groundswell of support for my cause but rather to let you know that I value your readership and participation on my blogsite. I love reading your comments and perspectives whenever they come in. And although I may not have formally (or informally) responded to them in kind, I have carefully considered your words to me and I am flattered that you have chosen to take the time and effort to join in the discussion.
Thank you for your support.
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