Being a writer means getting familiar with rejection. Most rejections are form rejections editors and agents send out by the dozens of hundreds. If you are lucky, you will get a personal email with individual regrets. The personal email is, I have found, even more painful to receive than the impersonal one because it means they like your story a lot, but they did not like like it. If you are very lucky, you will receive a revise and resubmit or an offer to direct submit next time.
I am not what you might label a patient person. If I had to choose my two worst traits, the ones which have caused me the most damage, it would be my lack of patience and my overabundance of pride. God will be working on these thorns for the rest of my life. I can honestly say I improve marginally as the months and years go by but the learning process stinks.
I have, without a doubt, chosen a profession in which patience and humility are required.
I have been querying publishers, the fancy publishing word for sending my manuscript or parts of it out with a letter, for almost a year. During that time, I have continued to write and learn about the publishing industry. It has been a year in which I have doubted, dreamed, and hoped.
When I needed it most, God blessed me with encouragement in the form of a woman I met in my women’s Bible study on Tuesdays.
Pam is an older lady, wise in her years, who always has a smile for people. She is one of our greeters and helps get everything set up on Tuesday mornings. I do not know her very well, we have never been in a small group together, but she is always kind and friendly.
One morning this past January, Pam pulled me aside after leader’s prayer and encouraged me to keep writing and to believe in myself. She asked if I had ever heard of Debbie Macomber. I said of course I had. Pam continued to tell me Macomber’s story, how she struggled for years to be published before finally getting a break and how she is a Christian who chooses purposefully to write mainstream fiction. Pam’s kind words made me smile and hope.
I went home after Bible study and looked up Debbie Macomber’s blog on which she was posting about her word for the year. It is a word she uses to center her life and walk with Christ each year. What a beautiful idea.
Later that day, I received my first rejection letter, a form letter, from my first choice publisher. Rejection, as I said in the beginning, is the norm in publishing, not an offer call. Though I had been expecting to see it in my inbox, it still made me doubt this path I had willingly chosen. My doubt spiraled downward into a pit.
Then, I remembered how, only a few hours earlier, God had placed Pam in my path to encourage me on this day, at this time, so I would know and not doubt. From then on, when I wavered in my conviction, I remembered God had been good to me on the very day I received my first rejection from the publisher and editor I admired so much.
It was not my last rejection letter. I have received many others. They were disappointing but none stung the way that first one did, until now.
A couple of weeks ago, there was an email in my inbox from an editor asking if my manuscript was still available. I did a snoopy dance and told her it was. We had a nice email exchange and she said she would get back to me. I was hopeful again, but cautious. The publisher was on the top of my list and would be perfect for my blended genre novel.
I waited two weeks. We were in the car on the way home when I read the email. The answer was not the one I had wished for. The editor was kind and offered a direct submission for my next work, which is wonderful and gratifying, but it did not make the rejection hurt less. Being liked, but not like liked is awful and I felt awful, sad, and frustrated. I was grateful to the editor who spend her time reading and responding to me personally, but I was hurt regardless.
I was silent most of the way home. I climbed out of the car, dejected and tearful. Ries went to the mailbox with Gideon and I heard him say I had a package. I could not remember ordering anything, but it was likely I had just forgotten about it. He handed me an Amazon box. In the return address label space was the name Pam.
Inside the box was the book Once Upon a Time by Debbie Macomber. In it, Macomber talks about the writing process and how God tells a story though each of us. It was just released on May 28th, Pam ordered a copy and sent it to me, and I received it the same hour I read the rejection from the editor.
Twice, when I needed encouragement and a reminder the most, God sent it to me through Pam’s kindness, a rainbow on a dreary day. Twice, when I doubted the most, He told me to be patient, to wait, to be humble, and to continue on. The beauty of Pam’s encouragement was the rainbow I needed that day and a blessing from God.
I am looking forward to seeing Pam so I can give her a huge hug and tell her how she has blessed my life, again. I have many more lessons to learn, lessons of perseverance and patience, but I know I never learn them alone.
“I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.” – Genesis 9:13