When to Give Up

When do you give up? Throw in the towel and admit defeat? I came dangerously close this week. For seven months, I’ve been revising and submitting my finished manuscript to agents and contests. Seven months that was the center of my world. And all I received are rejections. Kind rejections. But rejections.

It’s enough to drive  a person batty. Every time an agent requested the full, I got so excited at the possibility and then a month or two later the rejection email came. I received five in Italy. And no matter how professional you are or how prepared you think you are. They hurt. They burrow under your skin like a bee’s stinger. And then the poison spreads.

You start to question yourself. Doubt your ability. Wonder if you really have any worth as a writer. Sure friends and beta readers liked the story, but maybe it’s not publishable. Never going to see the light of day. Maybe this entire endeavor was a complete waste of time.

And of course, you can imagine, that thought really bums me out. Because I’m an uber time conscious person. If I think something will not work out, I don’t waste time on it. It’s pointless. Were the past 7 months pointless?! Shit.

So now I’ve worked myself into quite a meltdown. It pervaded most of my trip. This feeling of being lost. Of not knowing what I was doing.

And I felt, well, hopeless.

I’m a planner. I need a route plotted out for me with an end goal. Otherwise, I can’t seem to get out of bed in the morning.

So I decided to go back to what I love doing. Writing. March will be the month I finish drafting my adult novel. I’ve got 15K words to go until it’s done. So I’m switching gears and making that the focus. Then I’ll edit it this summer.

And I’ll keep sending the YA manuscript to agents and editors, but it won’t be the center of my world anymore.

So I’m not giving up. But giving in and accepting that there is a time and place for everything. And you cannot make things happens. But maybe they will.

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14 Responses to When to Give Up

  1. Cherie says:

    Kourtney! Despair not. I’m sure you know all this, but I’m going to remind you of how many accomplished writers have a manuscript that never saw the light of day. (Answer: Virtually all.) Sometimes writing a book is about learning to write a book, or trying out an idea. The only way you fail is by not trying at all. These seven months have hardly been wasted — think of how much know that you didn’t before. Persistence will be the key, like Michael Jordan practicing after everyone else had gone home, and I for one hope you keep at it.

    • Thanks so much Cherie! I’ve been trying not to focus on the query rejections, but it’s hard. To distract myself I dove into drafting my other novel. Even though I logically knew I didn’t waste the time, it felt like it. And those nasty emotions were really giving logic a beat down. Hearing your words really helped. 🙂 How is your story coming along?

  2. Jackie Fullerton says:

    Rejections are, sadly, a part of any author’s life. If you remember at CrimeBake, Charlain Harris told us she received rejections from her own publisher for her new Suki Stackhouse series. Fortunately, in this new publishing environment there are a lot of other options available like self publishing through an on-line publisher. Even the big authors are switching.

    Keep your chin up and keep writing.

    • Thanks for the words of encouragement. I’m going to keep querying agents and try a couple publishers too. I really want to exhaust all traditional publishing because self publishing has a huge learning curve for me and it’s a bit intimidating. But I agree with you, it’s definitely becoming more and more of an option. 😉

      I’m clocking 1000 words a day and hope to have my other novel finished this month. How is your writing going?

  3. tracy says:

    Keep writing, baby! I tremble at your powerful voice and Oliver’s is out of this universe! Maybe we should try word count wars? I clocked 1200 this morning (but none yesterday) whoever has the fewest words at the end of the week has to buy the other a drink, perhaps?

    It will happen, one way or the other or maybe in some other way that you don’t even see coming….

    • Yes, Ma’am! Thank you for loving my voice. You’ve captured such unique voices in both your novels, it’s gotta happen. 🙂
      Oh, I like a word count war. A drink sounds fair. Maybe the end of month winner can buy the other a book? 🙂 1200 is awesome! So you do a little more the rest of the week and you totally can make up the Monday. I clocked 1012 today. Yup, I count every little word. LOL. I wrote like 800 and ran out of new material so I edited the past week’s draft and added another 212.

      As long as it happens. I don’t mind the route I have to take. 🙂

  4. Hang in there, Kourtney. Rejection is part of the writing life, sadly, and I know it’s painful. We must have the ability to get back on the keyboard, and you did the right thing by starting another project ~ that’s the way to do it! You’re clocking an amazing number of words per day ~ that’s fantastic. You will continue to improve each and every day that you dedicate yourself to the craft.
    Those months were absolutely not a waste!
    When I heard Richard Bausch speak at AWP in ’08, I could have kissed him when he said (and I’m paraphrasing): “I don’t teach writing. I teach patience. Anything worth reading took a long time to write, a little bit at a time over a long period of time ~ with lots of doubt mixed in…” What a relief to hear it!

    • Thanks Kathleen. 🙂 Writing another book has helped me get over the rejection. Or at least taken the sting down to a slight burn. It’s okay if I can’t get an agent interested in the YA. There’s something else in the works. And they’ll be something else after than. Eventually some agent will love one of the stories. I hope. Yeah, the 1k seems to work for me. I take 2 days off a week. And I come back rearing to go. That is a great quote. Thanks for sharing, it helps put things in perspective.

  5. berry says:

    Don’t give up. The fact that you wrote a novel is fantastic. Nothing is in vain. Try this new book. Then self publish the ya book. It will happen. Just hang on.

  6. stephaniequeen says:

    Hi Kourtney!

    You BETTER NOT give up!!
    You’re fabulously talented and you’ve been working hard–but that’s exactly what it takes—a LOT of hard work.
    So no, the last 7 months were most definitely not a waste of your time, merely part of your apprenticeship..
    Keep it up–from your fairy queen mother, Stephanie G (from Backspace)
    P.S. Will you be at RWA Nationals in NYC in June? I’ll be there!

    • Hi Stephanie!

      I promise to keep trying. 🙂 Thanks so much for the pep talk. And for helping me shift from college age to high school. That made a huge difference in terms of requests from agents. I like the idea of the apprenticeship. How are things going with you? I was thinking of doing RWA, but it’s so expensive and neither of my stories is a romance. So I decided not to go. I’m going to CT Fictionfest in May and the Edgars Symposium in April. Might do a bigger contest in the fall/winter though.

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