October 30, 2010

Don't Stop Believin'

About a year ago, I received a rejection from one of the top agents in the industry. The email itself was short and polite. Something along the lines of, "Although we liked X and Y about your book, we don't feel like it's right for our list at this time." 

Just a couple of sentences. I was crushed. 

I'd received rejections before (over forty, in fact) but this was the first time I had gotten one on a full manuscript request. It hurt like the seventh pit of hell, and I ended up crumpling into the arms of my husband. I cried for over an hour that night. Tears. Snot. The works. (The sleeve of my sweater was doused in bodily fluids by the end of the evening.) In a desperate attempt to make me feel better, my sweet husband looked me in the eye and said, "Maybe you should take a break from this writing thing. If it's giving you so much grief...." 

His words made total sense, but my entire body rebelled against the sentiment. Give up writing? Give up on my book? NEVER! Despite the sadness wracking through my body, I believed in my little book. I believed in it a whole lot. Sure, maybe it needed more work---okay, it needed a lot of work---but I wasn't going to give up on it. Over my dead and out-of-shape body!

Almost a year has passed since that night but I still think about it quite often. I'm really, really glad that I didn't give up. And I'm really, really glad that I kept revising and rewriting and revising my manuscript. Because four months later, I received three offers of representation. And now, my book is on submission to editors. Of course, I realize that my book may never sell...but I remain mighty proud of it. It may have flaws. It may be silly and geeky. But it's mine and I believed in it and I still believe in it today. 

So the point of this post is...don't stop believing in your work. We writers are a sensitive bunch. We try to surround ourselves with a network of family, friends, and fellow writers who cheer us on when the rejections pile up and when the going gets tough. But these people aren't enough.

At the end of the day, YOU have to believe in your own work. You are the key ingredient here. You can have the entire world supporting you, but it doesn't mean a thing if you throw your hands into the air and say "I can't do this. I'm not cut out for it." You have to be your biggest cheerleader because nobody else can write this book. Only you.

Believe in your book. 
Believe in your abilities. 
Believe in you

*Cue Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'"*

Now go finish your book and kick some ass!


  1. Thanks for sharing this story. By sheer coincidence, it was really, really well-timed. I needed that! <3

  2. Amen to that, Caroline!
    I was in a spookily similar situation to you.
    I wrote my novel and then sent that little baby out there only for the rejections to roll right on back.

    It is difficult to keep the faith, I have days when I think it's the worst and some when I reckon it's not bad at all.

    My wife thinks I'm crazy for setting myself up for all this disappointment. But it's worth it when you get a hit, when someone requests a partial or a full, or even offers representation.

    Now I have an agent, I'm also on to the next gut-churner - submissions.

    It is tough, but you only need one hit, and you've got to keep plugging away. Like you said, if you don't believe in your own work, no one else will.

    Great post! And you've got me humming Don't Stop Believing (as sung by Chris Evans in The Losers), now.

  3. I have always hated that song...After your post, eh, it's not so bad...lol.. Agreed, this was great timing. I haven't queried for a long time, but in the time of my rejections, I have managed 13 total book revisions. LOL. The best rejection that I have had stated that my writing and plot were strong, but the agent did not consider my type of book a current "literary trend"...Umm, I thought trends were meant to be started as well as broken. Let's do this thing! I even sent an email to my favorite author, and shockingly, in return, she sent a lovely inspiring reply. But, you are right, you have to be the captain of your own cheer squad. I tend to be less than chipper, and not so much the optimist, so that is the hardest part to me. I am sure that most writers can relate.. Thank you for this post. Congrads on leaving the rejection pool. Best of luck!

  4. Meagan, glad to be of help! I hope your dystopian is coming along well. It really sounds awesome!

    Ian, haha. I'm sorry that I got the song stuck in your head! By the way. I noticed on your blog that you're about to go on sub! Wahoo! Is your agent targeting both US and UK editors?

    HBIC, I read on your blog that you received a response from Anne Rice! Anne freakin' Rice! That is SO cool.

  5. Great post, thank you. A year or so ago I had a similar experience--and I'm ashamed that I did put the book away. I didn't quit writing, oh no . . . In fact I have another novel I just started pitching, BUT . . . the old one won't let me go. Last week I made it a goal to get it back out there too. Reading your encouraging words is a nice affirmation.

    p.s. Yeah, I hear you on the full on ugly cry too. Why some rejections hit so hard when others barely make a dint, I'll never understand . . . And my own sweet husband, like yours, sometimes wonders why I don't . . . take a break. I think he gets it now. Sort of. Maybe. ;)

  6. Your number one cheerleader should be yourself! Wonderful inspiration for others.

  7. My favorite post of yours ever.

  8. Yay! Great post. I'm so glad you didn't give up! I think when you find the thing that's really your calling, you can't give up on it. It'd be like quitting being YOU.

  9. Ev, haha. Go ugly cries! Indeed, it's so strange how some rejections affect us more than others. I can shrug off some but others I can't seem to shake...

    Lm, thank you!

    Lindsay, aw shucks. You're far too kind!

    Jess, that's a great point! I can't give up on writing because it's truly like a calling of mine. Cool way of looking at it!