Determination’s gotta win, right?

Yesterday, I got an amazing email.

An agent sought me out (from the PitchWars contest), and I’ve been following her on Twitter and keeping up on her for literally years. When she asked for pages, and then a full, I was on the floor in hysterics. SO. Excited. It felt right. It felt like after all this time, the door I so badly wanted to open was beginning to let in some light.

Yesterday, that email came. As my husband and other lovely encouragers and CPs have pointed out, it’s a very positive rejection (if such a thing exists). She said she loved the story and details, it was well-written, and the way the music themes were woven into it is something she looks for in her authors. That’s the most I’ve received from any agent in the way of positive feedback. But I couldn’t see that. In fact, right now, all I can really see if that she didn’t connect with my characters enough, or the pacing didn’t grab her and keep her on the edge of her seat (well, it’s not a thriller, but I get what she’s saying she prefers, I guess) the way she’d like.

Lots of agents do R&Rs. At worst I thought she’d do that, and I’d tighten it and tidy it according to her suggestions and the world would be an amazing place. I began writing this story in 2006. I’ve learned SO much through it. It’s a part of me, in so many ways, and I’ve put hours beyond counting into making this what I want it to be, but also what I hope others would enjoy. So when she didn’t ask for an R&R, I pretty much felt like the world turned dark and crumbled around me.

Basically how I've been feeling for the past 12 hours.
Basically how I’ve been feeling for the past 12 hours.

It’s my dream to be published, to write books with my life and focus wholly on that. Part of that dream is also to have an amazing agent who gets what I’m trying to say, who loves my voice, and who helps me better myself. So while an offer to publish from a small publisher came through PitMad, I decided to turn it down. That in itself is a huge encouragement that my story has some zing to it that somebody likes. I gave it careful thought, but I really do want to work with an agent, and that publisher and I weren’t the fit I was hoping for, so as honoured as I am, it’s not right for me.

I’m determined to reach my dream. Several times in my life, I’ve had my heart set on something, and as preposterous as it might’ve sounded to those around me, I reached for it, and got it. It might not have had a happy ending, but it melded into my personality over the years to stay determined and I could reach what I was really trying for. There’s no bigger dream than finding others who enjoy and believe in my writing, and making it the THING THAT I DO. It’s not just a hobby to me.

But there’s more to it than that, and I’m ashamed to admit it but we’re all friends, right? Since graduating at the top of my class as a mature student in 2010, I felt like nothing could stop me when I put my mind to it.

Some of you know that a LOT has stopped me since then. I’ve applied endlessly for jobs I can totally do, and most of the time not even received a response to my application. For 2.5 years. Writing AND applying for jobs?


And yet, that’s what I’ve been doing. My long-time favourite author, Simon R. Green, has a story that’s stuck with me. If you don’t know who he is, check him out. I’ve been reading (and re-reading) his books since I was 12. He’s the New York Times Bestselling author of the DEATHSTALKER series, an amazing space opera, and my personal favourite, BLUE MOON RISING, and the HAWK & FISHER series.

He had years and years of rejection letters before all his success, and then, after 3.5 years of being out of work, just TWO days after he finally got hired at a book store in Bath, he sold SEVEN NOVELS. In one year.

Granted, those were very different times for the publishing industry, but the idea stays the same. The man was struggling big time, but he was determined. I guess in my silly old head, I’ve been dreaming that some similar story would happen to me. That all this time trying to find where I fit in to the world – despite the 1st class degree and hard-work-pays-off uni experience that mocks me endlessly now – would not be for nothing; that it would have to have a happy ending.

I still believe it will. It doesn’t change the fact that I cried for about 2 hours last night, but I’m really thankful to the CPs and friends who’ve read some/all of my ms and told me not to give up. Besides, I’ve still got another year to catch up to Simon. (right?)

I know that my attitude right now is having a little freak-out and I’m not feeling on top of the world like I did when the agent and I were exchanging emails, and she was saying how excited she was to finish reading. I feel worse than I can remember feeling. But I need to suck it up, so hopefully by the end of the day I’ll start to get back on top of things, and know she just wasn’t the agent for me after all (despite what every cell in my body was telling me two days ago). So… this:


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15 thoughts on “Determination’s gotta win, right?

  1. *hugs* And the sucky part? Every time I say no to a MS with my internship, I feel like I’m stomping all over the author’s dreams… Sometimes, I will flat out say that I just didn’t connect with the characters or story. (I actually had to write a rejection letter for one of the internship books today. It was…ergh. Rather incredibly hard. Luckily, I could look at agent rejections from enough people to see how they phrase things. I still twitched sending it in!) <3
    But it's SUCH a subjective business. You're better with an agent who is passionate about the work, no matter how long it takes! If they're passionate about it, they will be a FAR better advocate about it. Think about trying to recommend books you've read and loved, vs if you tried to recommend something you only thought was okay. I guarantee it shows in every little thing. <3

    1. I had that same feeling when I was sending out rejections at Black & White. I felt like I was stomping on my OWN dreams, since I could relate so well. Good reminder that it probably doesn’t feel nice to send those emails from their POV either, even if they do do it for a living. Thanks for your words… Back to the drawing board!

  2. *hugs* I’m sorry it didn’t work out the way you were hoping, but I’m certain there IS a far better agent out there for you. You just haven’t crossed paths yet ;).

  3. Cheyenne, I truly believe I my heart that you, of all people will get the happy ending you are determined to get! Think of all the little happies you’ve gotten already! You said it yourself; anything you’ve reached for, you got. You are inspiring and it may not matter, but I have faith in you. You just haven’t been aligned with the right publisher/agent for you. There’s billions of people out there….you will find your happy ending!

  4. Connecting with those who are taking part in your work matters a lot. Whether it be an agent, editor, or your contact with a publishing company if they aren’t 100% behind you then it’s not the right place for you. In Thelma and Louise the phrase “you get what you settle for” keeps popping up so don’t settle for what you don’t want.

    hang in there

    1. Thanks so much… and that quote does make sense. I gave a lot of thought to turning down that offer, but I think I knew in my head from the beginning that it wasn’t the road I wanted to take (whether or not I wanted to admit that, amidst the excitement). I guess for me the tricky part is knowing how much to keep changing the story every time someone new turns it down, and when to just leave it and keep looking for someone who sees a story they want to sell.

  5. Chy,
    I’m so sorry! I can’t imagine what a disappointment this must have been. 🙁 I’m reminded of the story of Thomas Edison saying that he didn’t fail thousands of times to perfect the light bulb…he simply succeeded in finding thousands of ways that wouldn’t work. 😉 Of course, the analogy isn’t perfect, since I think you do have a story that will work. It’s like your friends have been saying, you just haven’t found that elusive right person who is going to ‘get’ this book and love it as much as you do and be excited to help you promote it. I love the Simon R. Green story…I’ve heard things like that about so many authors. Try not to second-guess your story. If you believe in it the way it is, the right agent will too. Hang in there and keep at it…you do amazing work! And remember, you’re not alone. You’ve got God, an awesome husband, a supportive family, and friends you’ve made all along the way. You can do this! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Rust 🙂 I appreciate the support. You’re totally right, and I’m trying to look at this as just another step forward. I know it’s definitely not a step *back* because getting anything positive out of an agent I respect and admire is more than I had a year ago, so I can’t complain. Just need to learn to deal with the disappointment better.

  6. I love you for the words you write.
    I love you for the stories you tell.
    I love you for your determination.
    I love you for finding the positives, no matter how small.
    I love you for your heart, soul, and love you willingly give.
    I love you for you!

    Just remember, it didn’t take you a day to find your Scottish Prince!

  7. I completely understand. I would cry too. That being said, the feedback you got was awesome. You have a good story, but that agent didn’t click with it. Publishing is subjective. J.K. Rowling was told that Harry Potter would never sell 12 different times. We all know how that ended. Right?

    You can do this. It may not be fast, but you did have a few people interested. You can do it, Chy. 😀

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