So, if you’re coming with me on this journey, I guess you should know a little bit about where I started, right?
I’ve been writing since middle school. I completed my first “novel” at fourteen and, while I don’t want to toot my own horn, I was a HUGE hit among my fellow seventh graders. I continued writing all through high school and college, dabbling in blogging, short stories, and the student newspaper. After receiving my undergraduate degree in communications from Indiana State University, I decided to pursue my childhood dream of becoming a journalist. I enrolled in the Master’s program at Indiana University.
I hated it.
I hated the politics. I hated the pretentiousness. I hated the unfeeling, only-here-for-the-story callousness. But, most of all, I hated the person “the business” wanted me to become in order to succeed.
Now, I am not a quitter. I finished what I started. But I knew I’d never be the TV journalist I always thought I’d be.
Meanwhile, other things in my life happened. I married an Air Force pilot and moved overseas. We bought a dog. We traveled extensively through Europe and Asia. After five years, we came back to the States. We bought a house. We became parents. We traveled around the country. We moved again. We became parents again. Life was a wonderful, messy blur.
But still I needed more.
Despite my disillusionment with the journalism field, I still held in my heart-of-hearts an overwhelming desire to write.
And so I did.
I started a novel. I wrote and revised, then wrote and revised, then wrote and revised some more. I plotted, I researched, I dug deep into some deep-seeded personal issues. It took me three years to finish. Yes, three years. But, at the end of those three years, I had written a book that held so many tears, so many hours, and so very much of my heart.
And, here’s the kicker folks: what I found when I started on the publication journey was…
No one cared.
No one was bending over backward to publish my book. Hell, no one even seemed to want to read it. I was no one. Just a Midwestern girl living in the desert with no writing credit to my name.
So, ever the optimist, I read book after book on the publishing process. I stalked #MSWL. I made lists and spreadsheets of dream agents. I hired a professional editor for my manuscript. I queried and and queried and queried. And all that ever came back was rejection.
I. Was. Heartbroken.
And then, finally, a break: a small publishing house accepted my manuscript. It was going to be published….next year.
That’s fine! I’ll take it!
The publishing house went bankrupt. My book was not published.
Back to the query trenches. Finally! An agent wanted to read. And she liked it! I accepted an offer of representation with visions of my manuscript in hardback form laying in my hands.
Two months later, my agent’s husband suffered a medical episode. She was hanging up her agent hat. A mumbled “I’m sorry” and “Best of Luck,” and my doorway to the publishing world was closed once again.
While all of this was happening, I was at work on another manuscript. I finished this one in a year. Disheartened with the less-than-enthusiastic response to my first novel, I began querying the second. I got a bite after only a few months. She said she “loved” it (her exact words). She requested more. Filled with hope, I sent it.
And waited. And waited. And waited.
After the four month mark, I emailed her.
I waited a week and emailed again.
Still no response.
I waited another week and emailed yet again.
You can guess what happened next. Yep. Still nothing.
I’d like to tell you I took the silence with dignity and simply moved on. And, on the surface, that’s what I did. But I’m not going to lie: I was angry. Downright pissed off. This was my hard work, hours of my life. My precious words I’d let a complete stranger read. And she had apparently fallen off the face of the earth without even bothering to send a courtesy email.
But what I was most upset about was the shattered hope. I’d never had anyone tell me they’d loved my work before. Even my first agent, when requesting more material, had described it as “intriguing.” Never did she use the word “love.” For the first time, I felt like maybe I had a shot at this. Like maybe that publishing door wasn’t really closed.
Now, it not only felt like it was closed, it felt like it had been locked and there as some secret party going on inside I would only ever be able to see through the keyhole.
I closed my laptop and refused to write. I didn’t need the heartache, the rejection, the low self-esteem. I didn’t write for almost four months.
And then, a chance encounter on Twitter led to something else…