Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stay the Course -- No Matter How Rough or Easy

I explained to my therapist Joanie a few sessions ago that I was prepared for the arduous journey to publication and the hundreds of rejections just waiting to be sent my way. “I know it will be hard,” I said. She answered, “Why does it have to be hard?”

I’d read so many accounts from writers who described the demoralizing, time-consuming process of querying, waiting for response (rejection), querying some more, and repeating the ritual, sometimes for years. These ‘cheery’ accounts did nothing for my confidence.

But Joanie had a point. She’d relayed the story of how she went back to school to become a therapist and how many people warned her of the difficulty of establishing a practice in a small town. And yet, she’s extremely successful and didn’t encounter any of the roadblocks everyone warned her about.

I’ve been fortunate to receive some early positive feedback from two literary agents who presented webinars for Writer’s Digest. Both offered to critique query letters and/or first chapters of participants. Here’s what one agent wrote about my first chapter of God Doesn’t Like Sweet Cornbread (and Other Things She Told Me):

I started reading and was immediately engaged. Such a strong and compelling voice, and what a story! I wanted to keep hanging out with Cissy. You are clearly a wonderful writer. But at the same time, the subject matter is so horrendous that I’m not sure if I’d keep reading. It would depend on how much you referred to the heinous acts of the father versus staying in the present. In any case, if I were reading this manuscript, I’d sure keep reading for awhile to see where it goes.

I just added a new post-it note to my inspiration board at the office that says, “It doesn’t have to be hard. Believe.”

Sometimes I think we make ourselves sick by anticipating the worst instead of expecting the best. Setting intentions is so important -- they keep us on the right path, regardless how rough or easy the journey. That's what matters.

In my next blog: Writing about horrendous acts and people without turning off your readers.

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