Letting Go

It may be a bad idea to start off a new blog with a sad post, but this story is really the foundation of why I decided to write this blog, so I think that it’s important to tell it.

I finished my first book. Yay! I actually finished the first draft 2 years ago, but after spending 2-3 years writing it between working a full-time job and family obligations, I couldn’t find it in me to begin the editing process. I could barely even stand to read it anymore, let alone make changes. So, I put it away, and let it live in a file on my USB drive.

Earlier this spring I began to think about it. I realized that the animosity I held toward it was gone, and I decided the time was right to see what it could really become. So, I got it out again. I did my first round of editing. I sent it out to beta readers for feedback. I cried reading their suggestions. Then I rewrote the parts that needed the most help, as pointed out by those beta readers. Finally, I deemed it ready. I did my research, wrote my query letters, and sent them out to 20 different literary agents.

My first rejection came swiftly. The time stamp on the email showed that he rejected me only an hour after receiving my query. My heart broke. There’s no other word to describe it.  More rejections came over the next several days. I sunk into a bit of depression and felt like all of my hard work was pointless.

I thought I was prepared. After all, I’d done my research. I knew that only a small percentage of writers land agents, especially on their first try, and that rejections were almost guaranteed. But I was woefully unprepared for how much it was going to hurt. I cried a lot. I dreaded checking my email.

My confidence was completely shaken. In my ignorance, I had planned to self-publish if my story didn’t generate any interest. Suddenly I wasn’t so sure. Maybe it was simply drivel, and I was a terrible writer, and my dreams would never amount to anything. Compounded to that, I was completely overwhelmed. I had spent so much time editing and re-writing, I couldn’t imagine beginning that process over again.

Then I had an epiphany.  I didn’t have to do anything at all. The only one pressuring me to publish that story was me. So I let it go. I resumed work on another project, one I’m still excited about. I decided to start this blog.

My goal in writing that story was to prove to myself that I could write a novel. It was a milestone goal on a larger path to success. One that I accomplished, and I’m proud of myself for it. It’ll always be there, should I choose to revisit it and try again. Maybe it will live forever on my USB drive and never see the pages of a book. That’s okay too. It did what I needed it to. For now, I’m letting it go and moving forward.

In coming posts I’ll spend more time on the different pieces of this story, like my desperate search for the right agent or my relationship with my beta readers. I hope you’ll stick around.