What Happens Before You Start Over

With each book, I have given up. Given in to the reality of rejection. And let go. Moved on to the next one.

Again, I face that same situation. But I slip into the gap between giving up and giving in. Something desperate propels me to make another submission. To believe for one more day.

But hope is a precious commodity. And I am no longer a rich person. My soul feels threadbare. Thinned out in sections.
And I’m not sure how to begin again.

How to revise this next book and have hope of it being any different than the past two.

Maybe it’s the fear. Not of failure, but of being a fool.

Of believing in something that I never should have.

Maybe it’s the personal reverberating into the professional. Someone I anticipated in my life for decades left my life this year. Not to death, but to betrayal.

I trusted in the wrong person.

Now I doubt my ability to perceive things.

I doubt myself.

And in the midst of this, I must try to find some hidden strength. Some pocket of belief. Some crumb of hope.

I have to try again.

But I do not see the point in it yet. I just see pointlessness right now.

So how do I do it?

How do I begin again?

I dissolve into memories and dreams. I listen to songs that once mattered to me. Summoning up a time of hope and carrying it forward into the now.

I find little things and make them matter. And slowly I reconnect with the things that mean something to me.

And the belief kindles and smokes.


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37 Responses to What Happens Before You Start Over

  1. kford2007 says:

    totally get where you are. I’m on what feels like the gazillionth rewrite of my novel but I won’t give up. It calls to the very core of me. It’s been rejected but I KNOW it’s good. The way I told it before…not so good. It’s much better now after I’ve received numerous comments through those rejections. I believe in the story the way I believe in my kids. They may misbehave, not always live up to their true potential, but their roots are good so I keep at it. One day, they’ll grow into beautiful adults from all the nurturing as well as discipline. your book is your baby. Stay diligent, don’t give up on it, and that difficult teen-age manuscript will turn into a novel you can be proud of. I have faith in you, “Mom”. :)

    • Thanks Kelly. I haven’t permanently given up on any of my books, but I do have to shift energy and focus onto this new manuscript and get it from draft to polished. That means putting aside the other ones/give up on them for now. It hurts. I do believe in them, but the rejections are piling up. Forcing me to admit the books I love may not be wanted. But maybe it’s right time right place. Maybe it’s one or two more rounds of revision. Both are on submission to publishers. So it will be months before the next round of rejections come in. :)

      Thanks for the mom and baby analogy. :) It reminds me that I can always come back to them like family.

  2. I’m thinking of you. I know this place you’re in. And come on–don’t let a few agents get to you. That last one was an asshole (forgive me, but really, she was). You can do this. xoxo

    • Thanks El. I hate putting aside a manuscript. It feels like I’ve somehow failed the book that I can’t sell it. But I’ve submitted to publishers and there is not much I can do right now. I don’t want to revise them again. They’ve both been revised this year. So all I can do is move on to the next manuscript. It’s just that leap forward is so hard to take. I have to remind myself it’s not that I don’t believe in the other books. It’s that there is nothing else I can do for them right now. LOL about the last agent. :) Thanks for your belief in me. XOXO

  3. Geoff says:

    Income, peer recognition and validation of life choices aside (and as an aspiring author and professional photographer I recognize these needs) I believe one can only write for oneself. It’s what you do. No. It’s what you HAVE to do to be the person you are. People will sometimes disappoint, and sometimes in ways too painful to bear because they are prone to human frailty. I hope you can turn these life experiences into fuel to power your writing and that you can find a balance between income and inspiration to pen the next chapter of your life.

    • Thanks Geoff. I think you are very right. I made myself re-read some of my half written stuff, old journal entries, and ideas for new stories last night. The stuff I write just for me. It is who I am. And I am very proud of it. I try to funnel all the experiences of my life into my writing. I think I need to talk about the loss of trust through my characters–to work through it on paper. But I don’t have a story yet for that. :)

  4. jmmcdowell says:

    Recovering from rejection is a process. We can’t just “snap out of it” after a day, week, month, or year. A piece of us heals, though, each day. Over time, we feel less of the pain and hurt and more of the good occupies our days. We never forget the rejection. But time smooths the sharp edges and we find enjoyment in new relationships and new endeavors.

    In this brave new world of publishing, I’m saddened when I see talented writers decide to relegate a manuscript to the darkest recesses of a closet because a traditional agent/press deal didn’t materialize. Agents and editors are not all-knowing. They can get it wrong. Completely wrong. No one can predict the next biggest craze or bestseller.

    You believe in those stories you’ve written. It’s clear that your betas believe in them. You have a blog audience looking forward to reading them. Why not give independent e-publishing a try?

    Yes, marketing is hard work and scary. But even represented authors have to do 90 percent of it or more on their own. And you’re not alone. You’ve got a lot of followers here who would help spread the word with guest interviews, reviews, links to your books, and things I can’t articulate because I’m not that creative. ;)

    Designing a cover isn’t easy. But there are options out there at various price levels for hiring someone. Or is there a friend or family member who’s talented that way? Maybe you can exchange something you’re good at in return.

    Yes, there is garbage out there that should never have seen the light of day. But there are also good books by good writers. And there is potential for a successful writing career as an independent. No, there aren’t any guarantees. But traditional publishing is no guarantee, either. Most published books never reach 1,000 sales.

    But independent publishing is now a viable and respectable option. The fundamental requirement? A good story that engages readers. And I suspect that’s exactly what you’ve written.

    Give it some serious thought while that belief begins to glow and turn into the flames of your next story. You’ve got what it takes to do this.

    • Very true. Anger fueled me for a good week or two. I submitted both books to more agents and to publishers. But then the waiting started. I have to give the publishers 3-6 months to reply to exhaust traditional publishing options first.

      Then I will probably revise and start working on self-publishing one of the books. Marketing does scare me. It just feels like a huge undertaking. But I am warming to the idea of it. Thanks so much for being so supportive and offering to put the word out if I do self pub. :)

      I don’t mind hiring someone to design a great cover. I have the savings left to do that.

      I do want to get my book out there, but I also want to make sure it is the best book it can be. Without agents and editors as checks I worry that I’m giving the reader the best experience I can. I think I might want to hire an editor too.

      You are 100% right. And I have been thinking on it. And will continue to think on it. And thank you so much for believing in me. It means more than you know. :)

  5. Carrie Rubin says:

    Here’s hoping you rekindle that courage and passion. Shame on the person who took it from you.

  6. Heart aching. Revisiting old songs and memories.
    OK. Normal. You’ve got what my grandmother called “wallowing in the misery”. It’s a luxury (and a drug)
    But it’s not the dreams there.
    Dreams are snuggly hiding like a cat until you are ready to take up their challenges again. They tend to sleep when bored, so you may have to poke them…and they really will appreciate that.
    Take a nap, get some sun. Have a laugh. (tends to wake up dreams)
    Ones who try aren’t fools – that takes guts and soul….the ones that stop and tiptoe around dreams – that’s foolish.
    Now go poke something awake….even if it’s a silly little wild one…especially if it’s a wild one.

    • LOL. Thanks. I was listening to Rusted Root last night remembering how the teen me would dance around the basement to it. It made me feel better to reconnect with that moment and laugh at myself. Reminded me that I can be full of hope and I think I stole a little of it back into the present.

      I am poking the dream of this manuscript tomorrow. I have a schedule and I will dive into this book. I think it’s the only way to get unstuck. Working on it will remind me that this story is good and needs to be told. :)

      I have motivation to get it done by January so I can send it off to agents and editors I met at the last conference. :)

  7. You are so inspiring! Thank you for this honest, heartfelt post. Anyone feeling lost or stuck should read it. :)

    • Thanks August. When I committed to writing about my writing journey, I grappled with what to do with the blucky moments. To keep the blog upbeat or to tell the truth. My hope is that when I do publish the books, I can look back at this and be reminded of how hard the journey was. :)

  8. Elliot says:

    Sometime just a little time from the project will allow you to read it with fresh eyes. Try to go back at some point and just read it the whole way through, without trying to stop to take any notes for corrections. It’s hard, but then see how you feel about it.

    • Very true. There may be issues with the book that I cannot see now. I’ve revised it twice now and it is as good as I can make it. So it’s time to put it aside and work on the next manuscript. Each time I do this, it hurts. But one of these days one of these books may hit a publisher’s sweet spot. Or eventually, I’ll self pub and see how that goes. :)

  9. HI Kourtney,
    I pitched RT before it was ready, and regretted that. When you get many rejections, pay attention to what they are saying. I did, and revised. It gets discouraging. But the book gets better. DIstance helps. I pitched RT last month and got two solid bites. I am going over it one more time before sending it off. Sometimes, especially in these tough times, it takes meeting the right person, someone who shares your vision and gets your voice. Don’t be too discouraged. Yesterday, after a writing group write-a-thon at our usual restaurant conference room, a few of us retired to the bar for happy hour. There we decided to have a “What the Heck!” critique group for writers who wanted to dust off those not-quite-abandoned manuscripts and brainstorm cures for what ails them. I guess the point is that we all have them. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, nothing you write is wasted. It all goes toward the 10, 000 hours it takes to become a master of any skill. Best of luck, dear friend. You will get there! And I hope I’ll be right behind you!

    • It’s good to know I’m in such wonderful company Naomi! This manuscript went through lots of editor/agent/author critiques of the first 50-100 pages back in 2010. I revised and revised. It went to a couple trusted betas. I revised. I’ve been working on it over the past three years. This year, it got two dozen full requests. I took what I could from the rejections and tweaked and revised. But some of the rejections were “beautiful writing and let me know when you publish this because I want to buy a copy.” I know that should make me happy, but it frustrates me more. I’m starting to think it’s the timing. And sad to say I’d rather it be the writing because at least then I’d have some control over the situation. I do hope we both get there. And I’d be happy to follow you there. :)

  10. EllaDee says:

    I know this post and your experience pertains to writing, and novels but I think there’s much commonality to other things many of us have experienced… relationships as you touched upon, dreams, plans, jobs… sometimes we put everything we’ve got into them with the best of intentions, and it doesn’t work out due to time, place, missing ingredient, fate… we hate, we mourn, we think too much and we pick up the pieces and recreate them again, or we leave them behind and knit together something new. Nothing stays the same – so many songs I loved or needed, I now hate; books I couldn’t get into reading, I started again years later and loved; oh and people, say no more… sometimes we’re too close to things. Sometimes a pause or space makes the world of difference. Saying not right now doesn’t mean never…

    • Thank you for your thoughtful words. They really resonated with me. Especially “Saying not right now doesn’t mean never…” I needed that reminder. I’ve circled back to my first book several times. It still hasn’t sold but maybe that will come after the next round. Or not. But you are right. Things shift and change and nothing stays the same. The future is unwritten and I have to stop thinking I know what will happen. Because I don’t. Thanks EllaDee. :) I did write this post about my writing but the emotion has been felt across many situations in my life. I was striving to capture it so when I look back I can remember exactly how that moment felt. And know I made it through.

  11. i hear you – i’m half way through my next book and I hate it. don’t want to finish it. can’t be bothered to write…so i’m ready to start over.

    • Oh no that’s horrible! Sometimes I hit those times when drafting. I try to take a break and revise an older ms or what I’ve written so far in the draft. Sometimes I just put it aside and play around with a short story or concept for another book. Sometimes it’s just me. Sometimes it’s something not working in the draft. I hope you can take a breather and get some perspective. :)

  12. Never ever give up,. just move on to the next adventure. If any of my writing does not find a home, I will just keep querying it while I write other stuff. It may take a year or so, but avery good story will eventually find a home.

  13. zelmare says:

    Rejection is always cruel, but more so when you’ve poured out your heart and soul for others to read. But please don’t give up, you’ll succeed if you just keep at it. I’m rooting for you! :)

    • Thanks for understanding. I don’t want to give up. It just takes a while for me to process and rally again. That’s what I hope–that trying will get me to succeeding. Sometimes it’s just hard to look at all the rejection and think a yes is still possible. Thanks for rooting for me! :)

  14. Pingback: Huge hurdles. Needed: short posts? « Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

  15. That’s what happens when you try for publication – you’re brave to do it and I mean that in a good way. You could look it as ’99 rejections on the way to success’, or you could ask others to give you feedback on what’s getting you rejected. Ultimately, a lot of what ISN’T rejected is dreadful crap, so please don’t feel too bad about it! It’s not all about quality, it’s partly about the mood of the moment, celebrity, salaciousness, stuff like that I suppose.

    • Thanks. LOL. I think the book isn’t going to find a place with trad publishing. I’ve had agents give lots of feedback on fulls. I’ve done critiques with agents and editors on the first 100 pages. My betas have given feedback. I’m fairly confidence at this point that it’s not the writing. That’s what’s so upsetting. I can improve craft, but I can’t fix the nebulous market. :) LOL. That is one way of looking at it. ;)

  16. berry says:

    Immensely profound. Your inner strength awesome. Don’t give up. It matters. It all matters.

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