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.
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: