At the dawn of my writing career, I was flying high. I thought, even though my first two books weren't exactly what anyone was looking for, I finally had found my genre in my third attempt. My book sang to me, the characters were vivid in my head, the new spin on an old concept kept me fresh, and I had a good agent from a highly respected firm representing me. All the failures of my past had brought me to this moment...my moment.
And then the rejection letters started rolling in. My new concept wasn't considered fresh, it was considered niche. Or should I say...too niche. For over a year, my agent and I submitted my book, and the letters of "no thanks" kept coming. My agent was confused, she'd been so sure of the sale. I was confused, because the letters had no patterns other than "what is freerunning" and "is there a market for it?". I didn't want to give up on the book, but I was starting to, especially after one editor rejected me by stating she was working on her own book with a similar Parkour theme. What? Wait. What?!? I felt a little violated, I'm not going to lie. I wrote my book years before, when no one even knew what Parkour was (except, of course, those who practice it) and now someone was telling me they were writing a YA book about freerunning, too? Over!! My moment to shine, my moment to be the first...everything was over!
I swallowed back my disappointment and then I got a grip, and became more determined than ever to succeed. I poured my heart into another novel, a second book that had another storyline that spoke to me. I wrote a fast fifty pages, and was so excited about the project, I sent it directly over to my agent...who promptly told me she hated it. (In much kinder words of course, but, that's what you hear when someone tells you they can't relate. As artists, we're so sensitive sometimes aren't we?) I rewrote the pages three or four times from different angles, different viewpoints, but the response was the same.
I told myself then that my writing career...was a writing hobby. I wasn't going to sell either novel, I wasn't going to be able to write up the sequels, and everything...was a disaster. I used all of these perceived failures as a reason not to write, as an excuse to put more time and effort into my jewelry vendor business. The muse in me was dead, dead, dead.
Then I got an email from my agent. I think she, like me, wasn't satisfied with the ending of my personal writing story. She still loved my first book, she still thought it deserved better. She wanted to submit it again, but this time to publishers who were much more focused on mysteries that had nothing to do with post-apocalyptic, vampire, or post-apocalyptic vampire themes. Okay, I said, what can it hurt? I had no expectations this time.
In the nine months that followed, I became pregnant. With my small ray of career revitalization and a new life awaiting me...I became inspired. I started to write, again. I had ideas, again. I had hope, again. I rewrote those darned fifty pages in my new novel, again, and fell in love with the story...again. I approached writing with the passion I had prior to letting all the negativity get to me, and when I least expected it...I got the call.
Okay it wasn't a call. It was an email from my agent. And it began with "From Ellen"...and then a copy and paste portion of an email between my agent and the editor over at Poisoned Pencil Press. I skimmed through it, thinking it was a letter telling me why my book didn't fit with her line, but paused when I realized these were specific editing notes. Why was someone discussing book edits with my agent? Wait. I typed over a quick response to my agent which basically said I'd be willing to work on all of those things. "As a debut author, I'd be a fool not to look forward to an opportunity to improve my craft. Does this mean...she's offering for it?" Within the hour I received another email... "Yes! Congratulations!"
I reread the email several times, both my agent's and the snippets she sent me from Ellen. I'd just sold my novel.
I'd been about to give up and fully devote myself to my secondary career choice, but a small beacon of hope brought me back. And though I have no idea what the future holds for my books, I do know that no matter how dark and creepy my personal path to success may look, I'm going to march down it with confidence knowing that eventually, around a bend, there will be a field of awesomeness. :)
Stay focused, my friends.