“Today if you come up against rejection, remember: This does not mean “no.” It just means “not this way.”
Last Friday, this was a part of what I shared at the BookPeople signing and I wanted to share the story here as well:
I’ve always been an avid reader and for at least the last decade or so every time I’ve read a great book or maybe one not so great I’d make the comment that I was going to write a book of my own someday. After one of these comments my husband looked at me and said “So why don’t you do it, already?” or something to that effect. I remember deadpanning, stopping whatever I was doing at the time and staring at him, strongly considering slapping him. I mean, couldn’t he see all of these kids running around everywhere? Where was the time? Couldn’t he see how hard I was working at work? But after the initial sting of what I perceived to be his abruptness wore off I realized I knew in my heart that he was right. A few short weeks later, I lost my only sibling, my brother who was sixteen months younger than I am, very unexpectedly. So unexpectedly, that I clearly remember sitting in his dinning room staring at his half-eaten dinner as the coroner photographed his body. Perhaps it was the (literal) shock–but I all I could think about in moment as I sat there was how it could possibly be that one minute you’re here, eating and conversing, and the next you’re just…well, gone. His death really made me evaluate my life, all of the things I was focusing my attention on and where and how I was spending my time. Things and places, it turned out, that would not get me what I ultimately knew I wanted.
Then, five months later, I found myself in a hospital with my Grandmother whom had raised us (so for all intents and purposes she was like my mom) and I had to make the decision to take her off of life support after what we thought would be an in and out hospital stay. Her death and the aftermath only further made me contemplate what we’re here for and what we leave behind. In fact, although I didn’t know it at the time, my last conversation with her was about me publishing my first book. She said she was proud. One thing I know, for sure, is that I will be forever grateful that we had that conversation and that she knew that I was going for what I wanted.
As of May 2nd, it will be a year since I decided to independently publish. Since that time I’ve published three novels and the latest, Somewhere With You, is probably the most personal. In it, both characters lose their parents very young. Amelie, loses her father very unexpectedly in a car accident while Jack loses his mother after she succumbs to a battle with cancer. In the story we see how these losses and the circumstances surrounding them shape the characters. Jack’s mother has the foresight to know that she isn’t going to make it. So, she makes the decision to write letters to her son to be opened at key points in his development. As a mother, this has always been my greatest fear, to die before my children are grown. And so I’ve always had the idea to write them letters in case that were to occur which is where the idea came from for Jack’s mother to write him. At the signing last week, one of those letters (an excerpt from the book) was part of my reading and I’ll share it below.
That said, I’m not writing this to say “woe is me.” Because it’s not. I am actually happier than I’ve ever been and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished within the past (almost) year, even if I’m not where I want to be, yet. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of seeing my books on a Barnes and Noble bookshelf, which is no small feat for an indie author. I hope that changes but either way, it was a dream come true. Also, I am told that Somewhere With You will be featured next week on BookPeople’s Best Seller Shelf in their store.
But my actual point here is that going for what you want, for what you know you’re meant to do, is NOT easy. Every single agent I submitted to told me no. To be fair, my book was already published, so yes, this fact probably played into that. Still, two marketing firms that work with indie authors both turned me down saying that I wasn’t what they are looking for. And…I uh… would’ve been paying them, so that’s kind of really bad, the suckiest of all sucky things. :) Of course, there have also been the bad (and the just plain mean) reviews, in addition to the uphill battle to try and get my work out there in the world. But none of this has stopped me from keeping on, keeping on. Sure, just two days ago I wrote author friend of mine and told her I wanted cry, scream, and punch something. Simultaneously. But that is part of it. I was almost at my wits end when yesterday, a pretty significant opportunity came about, I saw my books on the B&N shelf, and scheduled a conversation to speak with a publicist who is interested in taking me on as a client. So…I write this to share my experience but also in hopes that if you have something you’re going for that you’ll push through. Because sometimes it is the only thing you can do. Sure, from afar it may appear that others have it easier than you do, but that’s only because you don’t know their story. Anything worth having takes work. Rejection and heartache and all the rest just come with it. Keep going. It’s probably worth it. ;)
And the excerpt from Somewhere With You:
My Dearest Jack,
If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably just had your heartbroken for the first time. Or at least it feels that way, anyway. But I want you to remember, son, that this isn’t the first time (nor will it likely be the last) that you’ve felt this way. You’ve been through so much already, and if you’re reading my letter, then obviously, you’ve survived thus far. And while it may not feel like it just now, you’ll survive this, too.
There are so many things I want to tell you about love, Jack. Oh, how I wish I were there to tell you this in person, to hug you, and hold your hand. Though,I’m guessing at this age, you might not like hand holding so much anymore. I try to picture you, what you look like now, where you are as you’re reading this, and it brings me so much joy to think of you all grown up. I looked in on you tonight as I’ve done every night since the day you were born, and as I watched you sleep, I pictured the man you’ll become. It’s hard not to feel a little bit bitter knowing I won’t be there to see it all. Oddly enough, though, it is with that sentiment that I want to tell you about love. If you are reading this and your heart is broken, you are lucky, Jack. I want you to pause a moment and let that really sink in. You are so damned lucky. Feeling this way, it means that you are living and more importantly—that you are loving. You cannot know how lucky you are to love until you’ve felt the immense pain of having to let that love go. It is a part of life. And as I am learning, it is also a part of death. Do not waste it. Do not play small. Lick your wounds, but then get back out there. Love harder next time. Most people don’t do that, you see. They get hurt once, and they hide behind it. They use it to excuse themselves into living guarded lives, never quite feeling the passion, the love that they are capable of. But not you, son. Don’t make that mistake. And I hope that if you consider taking that route, you’ll think of me and you’ll feel my love and know that even though I may have lost my battle, that I didn’t go down without a fight.
Neither will you, my love.
Neither will you.
I love you always,
P.S. Tips for healing a broken heart: time, above all else (don’t worry, you won’t feel this way forever), ice cream, and meaningful work. Now is the time to start a new project, Jack. Try something new, throw yourself into it, and let yourself get lost in it. You’ll come out all right in the end. You always have.