Pam Meyers is first a child of God and second a writer. God's calling on her life is to write for Him, telling stories of hope and healing for a hurting world. She belongs to a wonderful writing organization called American Christian Fiction Writers where she is honored to serve as Secretary on the Operating Board. Several years ago she took early retirement and is now writing full time, having completed several novels, the most recent a cozy mystery with a touch of romance. Visit Pam's Blog: A Writer’s Journey at www.pammeyerswrites.blogspot.com.
Fresh from finishing a correspondence course on novel writing, I headed off to the Write to Publish conference, a proposal for my new novel in hand. My instructor had assured me that my story was publishable, and I had no doubt that, God willing, the editors would soon be battling one another for my manuscript. I thought I was on my way.
At my first appointment, the editor read my chapter one while I sat waiting. Then she looked me in the eye and said, “The storyline is good, but this isn’t ready yet. You’re starting it in the wrong place.”
I did a surgical strike on chapter one and made chapter two the first chapter. With a little tweaking, it was ready to wow the second editor. Except she wasn’t wowed. “This starts too early,” she advised. That evening, I did another surgical strike, making the original chapter three chapter one.
At my third and last appointment, the editor didn’t bother reading anything and inquired about the storyline. She then asked me to send her the proposal. The conference ended on a positive note. Little did I realize that months later I would receive a form-letter rejection in the mail. It still wasn’t ready.
Those appointments may not have gained the results I’d hoped for, but I learned an important lesson that can be applied to any type of rejection.
I like to call rejection “redirection.” We have to remain teachable and tenacious, willing to flex. It would have been easy after the first appointment to give up or say that the editor didn’t “get” my writing like my instructor did and not try to improve. But I didn’t. I went to the computer and attempted to start the story in the right place before meeting with another editor.
That string of appointments and their results represented to me the proverbial line in the sand. If I stayed behind it, writing would be no more than a hobby. If I crossed it, I was willing to take whatever hard blows were necessary to improve my craft to a salable level.
A couple years later, I attended the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference in Kansas City and presented that same story, plus another one, to an agent. In time, she offered to represent me and I thought I was on my way. However, over the next months and years, in spite of my critique partners’ encouragements and my agent’s positive feedback, the rejections came.
By then I realized how much rejection goes hand-in-hand with writing. Countless stories abound about well-known,
multi-published writers who received rejection after rejection before they got their first big break, and that encouraged me. With each rejection I would ask God if this endeavor was really His calling or if it was my imagination that I was supposed to write. Invariably, as soon as I asked the question, I’d receive a request for a full manuscript or some other positive feedback. And I’d go forward. Then my agent had to close shop and I was back at the starting gate.
The following fall, I went to the ACFW conference in Dallas, determined to meet as many agents as possible. My hopes quickly dissolved when the agent I’d scheduled an appointment with had not come because of health issues, and all other agent appointment slots were taken. Discouraged, I went to the prayer room and opened my Bible to Psalm 37. Verse 3 seemed to jump right off the page: “Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness” (NKJV).
With all my disappointments, I’d taken my focus off God and what He had already done for me. At that time I was in the middle of projects and had nothing for an agent to present to editors. Acquiring an agent wasn’t my highest priority. Dwelling in the land meant I should be content in my current circumstances by remembering God’s faithfulness and that in His due time He will provide.
A little more than a year later, when I was ready to send my projects to editors, I signed with my current agent. God was faithful to me in His timing. Once again, I thought I was on my way.
Last year, two different editors became seriously interested in my book projects, but because of the economy, rejections came my way instead of contracts. Again, I asked God if I was within His will for me. Within days, I received interest from an editor in a project idea I had pitched to her.
Am I on my way? Author Lena Nelson Dooley often says that God is never too early or too late. He is always on time. I don’t know if Lena coined those words herself, but they hold a lot of truth.
Are you struggling right now, having more rejections slips than assurances? Are you wondering if you should go on or stop fooling yourself and quit writing? Search your heart and ask yourself, “How easy would it be to stop?” Not stop for a break, but forever. If you can’t imagine yourself not writing, then keep on writing, learning to improve your craft, writing, critiquing, writing, attending conferences, and writing.
Remember, God is always on time.