Home > Writing > My first novel: a retrospective – Part 6 (the end)

My first novel: a retrospective – Part 6 (the end)

So on and on I typed, my second novel growing from just a germ of an idea to nearly three quarters of a book. All the while, I did my best not to think about the book publisher that had gone bust and tried not to let my mind wander away from writing while I awaited a response from the agent I’d queried. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait much longer before I received a piece snail-mail from the agent (in my SASE, of course). In it, the agent wrote that they’d love to read the whole novel. All I had to do was send it to them.

Awesome. Another step in the right direction. If I could win over an agent, I might have a chance with the book getting published. Another trip to the copy center and the USPS, and it was soon on its way to New York City, destined for the hands of an agent that thought I just might have something worthwhile. Again, my confidence was boosted. So, while pondering a great future as an author, I once again typed away, figuring it was only a matter of time before I was discovered.

Some number of weeks later, I checked the mail and found a self-addressed stamped manuscript box from the agent. I’d assumed that if they liked the book, they wouldn’t send it back, so I expected just another rejection. I was surprised, though, by what it contained: yes, a rejection letter, but also copious notes about what the reader had considered problems with my (first) draft. Simultaneously, I was both encouraged and discouraged. It was great that they’d thought enough of my book to personally provide some suggestions, along with a request to resubmit my book after I was finished making the changes. But the sad fact was that they didn’t want my awesome first novel as I’d originally written it. While mature authors know that a first draft of a first novel is going to be, for the most part, crap, I was still under the newbie delusion that everything I wrote down was great stuff. Apparently, though, mine wasn’t as great as I thought it was.

And we have, as they say, now come full circle, back to part I of this retrospective. It was this point in time where, rather than take suggestions and continue working to make my book better, I somehow imploded and became disillusioned enough to pack it all in and give up on a dream. Perhaps the ease with which I threw in the towel was indicative of how sincere my desire was to write, that perhaps I was writing for all the wrong reasons. Given the outcome, I’d say that was probably true, though the passing of years has made that aspect of the journey a bit fuzzy. Bottom line: I wanted to be a writer and write books, but I didn’t have the passion to forge ahead through endless rejections, and to put my butt in the chair and work at the craft of writing until I got it right.

It’s kind of sad to look back on that part of my life; I really did give up so easily. I often wonder what might have been, what I might have accomplished had I really pursued writing for the right reasons and been mature enough to deal with the hard work of achieving such a goal.

What might have been …

I should write that on a post-it note and stick it on my monitor.


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  1. DJ
    May 1, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Dearest Love,
    What might have been is sure to come. I have faith in you.

    • May 1, 2012 at 10:37 pm

      Thank you, sweetheart, for your unending support and encouragement. Without you, and all you give, I’d never get anywhere.

      Love you,

  2. May 1, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Okay, I see your point. I have to say that while I am writing my first book, it’s hard to even get it finished because all I keep thinking about is how many rejection letters I am going to get and how many people are gonna take a piece of my soul and just rip it up. But I also have to say, that I believe in you. Should you take a break and have a margarita? Probably. But maybe you can take this time to wallow, lick your wounds, and be brave enough to re-work it when the time comes. I can’t believe how much time they took giving you suggestions. It’s truly a gift. When you can see that, and make changes who knows what doors it could open. I believe in you!

    • May 1, 2012 at 10:41 pm

      Erin – thank you so much for the encouraging words. I do appreciate hearing them. I think my skin has gotten a little thicker over the years, but there’s always that fear of rejection, whether it’s directly from a publisher, or in the form of “gee, I didn’t really like it” comments from others who may read what you write. I guess it’s because it’s like sharing something very personal, and no one likes to hear negatives about those kinds of things.

  3. Tara
    May 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Well, you did better with that opportunity than some people do, or so I’ve heard. There’s a romance writing conference every year, and within it aspiring authors can make appointments to pitch their novels. One of the editors or agents mentioned (this was years ago now) that very few (she might have even said zero) of the full manuscripts she requests at those appointments does she ever receive. So some people can’t even take that step. 😉

    Me, I’m sure I’ll just get form rejections. If and when the time comes. And I’d probably be one of those who froze and then ran away if someone asked for a full. LOL.

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