I read the email.
Then I read it again.
I read it a third time allowing all of my crippling insecurities to overwhelm me. I swallowed back my tears and took a long, deep breath that was mixed with the gratefulness as well as a touch of disappointment. Not because it wasn’t true, not because I disagreed with it or that it was a stock response, but because it just wasn’t quite what I wanted to hear.
It was what I needed though, and after the encouragement from a few friends and a good run outside, I sat with a hefty glass of wine and read it once more, taking to heart the good advice I was given (great advice actually) and pushing aside my anxieties and overthinking (that I often do) and realized that this was a gift and not a rejection.
The agent I was so looking forward to hearing from had not only read a large chunk of my book, but gave me amazing feedback and words of encouragement. We don’t often get this when shopping for agents/publishers. From the 3 rejections I did receive before, it was mostly “Yeah no thanks” and I move on left with less than what I started with. Less because not only was I shot down, but I was given no feedback at all. (Which is normal)
But was my story shit?
Was my writing itself shit?
Was my structure or characters or setting …shit?
I mean gimme something people! But that’s how this goes. That’s what “new” writer’s deal with. I am definitely a beginner and I totally own that. I did not go into this thinking that someone would just immediately jump all over it and slap my book in Barnes and Noble the next day. I’m not that naive. But it still hurts to hear any criticism when you’ve put everything into something and it’s not instantly celebrated. And truly, if you want to enter this industry thinking you won’t receive criticism or be ignored altogether time and time again, you’re in for a rude awakening.
This has been such an emotional journey and I promised myself to be completely open and honest about it. Not just for myself but for anyone else considering it. I think sharing these experiences will let people see it’s not as easy as it may seem, and although yes, I could technically go and just publish it myself and move along my merry way, I won’t feel I’ve reached my full potential that way. My book is good right now, I know that much. I’m not usually too confident in anything I do, but this, I am and I know I have the potential to be a great writer. (She also felt that way, so I did feel a bit giddy reading that part) but in order for that to happen, I need to go through the professional channels. I WANT to do it the hard way, the right way… the same way all great writers go.
And now that I have a starting point, finally… I have something to work with. I have true feedback from a real agent and someone I would absolutely LOVE to work with one day. That alone is something to be proud of.
So after I shed my tears and sweat off the initial disappointment (if you can even call it that) and gave myself a minute… I pulled my shit together and recommitted. I’m going to enjoy the weekend with family and friends and prepare myself for the 5K I will be participating in next week and then refocus on my book.
My first book.
I’m going to separate it into sections and fine tune it until I have every word memorized and perfect. I will make it a million times better than it is now and when it’s the best it can possibly be… I will resubmit it to her.
And hopefully she will have the reaction I was blindly hoping for this time.
But what I did takeaway from this is (that I almost missed) is that she didn’t say “No.” She didn’t say I had no future. She didn’t say I wasn’t creative enough or my characters were bland or had no dimension. She said I had potential. And THAT is everything. To me at least. In my little world.
Funny how my last post was about good timing… I will remind myself of that as I continue on this journey. I’m not discouraged which actually surprised me… I’m just even more excited to work on it and make it even better!
So, once again, wish me luck. Wish me patience. And wish me stronger storytelling!
And while you’re doing all that wishing – here is another recipe!
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 3/4 cup sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
6 tbsp shortening
6 tbsp butter (softened)
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cup quick oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, combine sugar, shortening and butter until smooth.
- Add in egg, yolk, vanilla extract, cinnamon and quick oats. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and once it is completely combined, using a rubber or wooden spatula, stir in the chocolate chips.
- Spoon out dough onto parchment lined (or onto a silpat) and place on middle rack. Bake for 8-10 mins. (this yields about 24 cookies).