Thursday, July 19, 2012

To Quit or Not To Quit

Success is a funny thing. Sometimes it explodes in your face because you're in the right place at the right time. Sometimes you shuffle towards it slowly like your ankles are bound together while running a 5K. Sometimes it just- isn't.

I've been here in New Mexico all week (anyone miss me?) dedicating myself toward becoming a better writer and opening new doors into the publishing world for my novel- No Guarantees. 

I didn't want to come so far away from home. I didn't want to leave my kids (I MISS THEM!)

But somehow I knew that this trip was necessary for me- a challenge that I had to complete before I could go back home to my first career- mothering. So many things fell into place to make this trip possible. Enough things for me to know this is where I need to be.

Well tomorrow I am finished my weekly journey. Tomorrow I finish my last class and board the red-eye back to Vermont (I miss grass).

And I'll be honest with you- this trip didn't go at all like I thought it would.

I thought that my writing instructor would read my work and laugh in my face telling me how horrible it was. She didn't. She said my book is wonderful- that I am an excellent writer- that I need to keep writing and working because she can't wait to buy a finished copy of my book. (And surprisingly enough- the rest of my class said the same thing)

I thought that the agent consult would give me good tips on securing an agent- writing a query letter- maybe even how to be a future client of hers after I applied my workshop knowledge to my manuscript and sent her a revised copy. She didn't. She didn't like my book- the overall pro-life message driving the book bothered her, and in her opinion made it unpublishable.

Unpublishable. I can't think of any word that has crushed my spirit faster.

My writing instructor says not to listen. That it is a fabulous book- that is one person's opinion. All I need to do is find the one person who sees the potential that is there. Obviously this one agent was not that person.

My writing teacher, the successful novelist, said to keep going.

I want to quit. (yes, I almost deleted my blog today as well. That's how much of a failure I felt in that moment)

My teacher said I'm not a failure. I'm just getting started. Why do the two often feel like the same thing?

I thought that this week would teach me how to be a successful author, but what I really learned was that I already have what it takes. I just have to push through those feelings of inadequacy and do what I know is right- writing.

I thought that I would feel out of place in the middle of writers. But I learned that I can hold my own.

I thought that someone would tell me definitively that I should keep going or quit.

Turns out I had people tell me both of those things. So now it comes down to what I really believe. What my vision is. What feels right.

I sincerely believe that I have a novel that will not only be an interesting read- but make a difference in how parenting a child with special needs is viewed. Do I have more work to do? Without a doubt. Is my book important enough to keep working on? I firmly believe so. Can it be published and sell well? I really do think so.

In class, writing a novel was compared to pushing a bean across a warehouse floor with your nose. I keep looking up and thinking that the wall is closer than it actually is. It's time to buckle down and just keep pushing that tiny bean little by little. I will eventually get there even though this hasn't been an "explode in your face" success publishing story.

But that's OK, because when you have something important to say, you keep working as long as you need to to find that success. Even when it feels like the warehouse wall has expanded across the Grand Canyon and quitting seems like the easier option.

I'm not going to quit. Because Addison-who has to work hard at everything-doesn't quit trying to do those things she REALLY feels is important. And I learned from the best.


  1. Don't quit! You're book is important Deanna! And it sounds like that agent let political beliefs get in the way...and you shouldn't have to deal with that. Good luck...I know you can do it.

  2. Well said! Thanks for the update, I've been thinking about you. I can't wait to read your book-not just because I know it will be good, but also because I've heard about all the hard work you put into it. Keep you're head up...your writing teacher is right. Safe travels back home to your family!!
    Crystal Otto (MN)

  3. If your book is even half as good as your blog, I will try to get your book when it is published. :) Plus your book has an important message!

  4. Yes we have missed you! I've heard lots of stories of how very well-known authors could line full walls with the rejection slips they received before someone took a chance on their manuscript, and the rest is history. Believe in your story. If its worth telling, you need to fight for it, regardless of the naysayers along the way. I can't wait to read it! Congratulations on surviving your big week, and enjoy getting home to your beautiful family x

  5. I've definitely missed your blog posts!! I was wondering how it was going out there :) and can I just say that it makes me mad that this agent thinks the book will be unpublishable because it doesnt fit the societal norm of pro-choice. You have a voice! Make it loud and clear :) I'll be praying you find that one that sees all the potential and greatness in your work!! Keep on keepin' on!! :)


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