Off the Clouds

Most writers play the comparison game. As I said yesterday, when I compare I tend to err on the side of pride and criticism. Others of you mentioned the same tendency.

Sometimes we need a reality check, something to bring us off the clouds and back to earth.

Today I thought I'd share one of my reality checks.

After an entire year of research and writing, I finished my first historical last May. I spent the summer revising it and getting it ready to send to agents. I was just sure they'd take one look and want to represent me.

I researched all of the Christian agents that accepted queries from unpublished authors and quickly discovered I had very few choices. So, as with most over anxious writers, I sent multiple submissions and then sat back to wait (and check my email every few minutes for responses). Little did I know. . .

After weeks, the responses started to trickle in. And I rapidly descended from my euphoric cloud back to earth. Here's a snippet from one of my rejection letters:

Thank you for sending us your proposal to review. While your project exhibits merit, it is not quite what we are looking for at this time. This is a good idea for a series. Unfortunately the writing of the books would be much more effective if they spoke and thought in the voices of that era. They are far too modern right now. Almost as if Hollywood were remaking a classic instead of setting it more accurately.

Ouch! I was grateful for this personalized letter which was better than the form letters and emails that told me nothing. But, nevertheless, the letter was a huge reality check. It helped me see I still have a long way to go on the path to publication.

As much as we need those reality checks from time to time, we need encouragement too. The same manuscript that got the rejection I just mentioned, also got an encouraging response too:

I really like this! May I see a complete manuscript via a single email attachment?

Wow! As short as it was, it gave me incredible encouragement. I learned something from both responses: my manuscript still needed work, but I was doing something right.

What's your experience? Have you ever gotten a reality check? Or what about encouragement--what's the best thing any one's said about your writing? We'd love to hear!

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