I feel the need to apologize for not posting earlier in the week. But you see, a dream that began for me just over two years ago is very close to becoming reality: the publication of my first novel. As such, well, let’s just say I’ve been a wee bit preoccupied.
For those of you unfamiliar with my story, I began writing a book entitled REDEEMING GRACE two years ago. The idea came completely out of the blue. I’d been feeling restless because of a freak sports accident at home that resulted in a broken pinky finger on my left hand. There went my golf season, my flower gardening…pretty much everything I loved to do outside. Apparently, that left me in desperate need to find a new (or perhaps existing but long suppressed) creative outlet.
And then one evening a scene came to mind. One with a young woman peering out her bedroom window at a beautiful fall sunset, trying to convince herself that she had to go through with an interview for a job she didn’t want or even like. But for her, it was the only way she could “redeem” her best friend. One scene, in my head, just begging to get out.
Gee, when I put it that way, it sounds a bit…psychotic. LOL
Anyway, the scene stuck. And suddenly, I had the desire to write an entire book around it. I typed for a month using five fingers on one hand and one finger on the casted hand (which if you’ve never done, I don’t recommend—it makes you seriously dizzy after a while.) Eventually the cast came off, and I kept plugging away. The following spring, draft one was complete. Ridiculously long, and oozing with rookie mistakes, but done nonetheless.
Gradually, my goal shifted from simply writing a book, to getting it published. My husband encouraged me to go for it. My friends thought it was great. A few of my co-workers just looked at me like I was nuts (which isn’t all that unusual, so I didn’t think much of it).
But then my mother-in-law upon hearing of my intention, bless her heart, said she thought I was brave.
“To set yourself up. You know, for all that rejection.”
I remember just standing in my kitchen, staring at her. Rejection had never crossed my mind. There I was, naively assuming (darn, there’s that word again) that I would write some best seller and bookstores would be pounding on my door, begging me to allow them to place my books on their shelves.
OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but seriously, rejection hadn’t crossed my mind. I was going to write a book, and it was going to get published. The little engine who could, right?
So my M-I-L’s words, innocent enough, actually helped get my head in the game. I began to do the things a future-author needed to do. Sought out writing resources. Joined a local writer’s group. Took online writing classes (run by my fantastic friend and mentor, NY Times Best Selling local author Shirley Jump). Joined a critique group. Found beta readers to supply me with ideas and even more feedback. All so I could set myself up to achieve my goal.
After a complete overhaul of the book (plot, length, even character names) and another year of work, I decided it was finally time to press on toward publication. I spent hours online and at the library, identifying potential literary agents to help me market my book. And in July, I officially began to send out my query letters.
Several months and thirty letters later, I am still agent-free. And I’ve been told by multiple respondents that my beloved title has got to go. Does that mean I’ve failed? That I should tuck my tail and give up?
Heck, no. Why, if at first you don’t succeed…
Now, I’m not going to lie. Those first few rejection letters stung a bit–even after I’d spent months warning myself not to get my hopes up. But I also know that if it’s meant to be, it will be. So in the meantime, I’ll keep studying, keep learning, keep writing. Because, really, that’s what writers do—they keep writing. And sometimes, their work even ends up in publication. And the offer in my hands – yes, I have been made an offer by a publisher without the help of an agent—might just mean my time is coming.
But what I have learned along this journey is to not let the fear of rejection keep me from going after my goals and dreams. I’m not going to let it hold me back, and keep me wondering what might have happened if I’d just stuck with it. If I believe in myself, and do everything I can to put myself in position to succeed, then why should I allow fear to control my future?
No, I’d rather keep pushing ahead and see where this all leads. So far, it’s been one heck of a fun ride. It’s exhilarating, really, in a nerdy, book-worm kind of way.
And don’t worry, when publication does finally happen, I’ll be sure to let you know.
So, what is it that you dream of doing? And if it’s just a dream, what’s holding you back?