|Beach at Indiana Dunes State Park on Lake Michigan |
Mother's Day 2011
Photo by Loree Huebner
Mother's Day weekend, I pulled out a book that I had written about five years ago. This story is an inspirational, historical romance that takes place at the end of the Civil War. I had queried this book back then and got quite a few nibbles. I was told by one agent that I was near publishable, but there was too much back story and some problems with the conversation. (I was still a novice at rejection back then and thought I knew it all!) At that time, I took her words with a grain of salt and hastily fixed what I could. I entered the book in a contest in 2008. Needless to say, I didn’t win or place in that contest. The judge who read the book called it “too wordy in places.” Too wordy??? Excuse me! What the heck? Don’t give me…too wordy!! You just don’t understand the time period! Feeling harshly rejected, I put the book on the shelf and started a new novel.
After final edits and revisions on my most recent two novels, I opened up the file on this older book. I kept saying to myself that I would read through it this spring…but I kept putting it off. I think I was scared. Scared of what? Reliving the rejections?? Maybe? My hubby always says, “If you’re afraid of something…turn and face it!” I got brave and pulled those rejection letters out too. Yep, I save them all. I read through each one from this particular book. Most were your basic, “Thanks, but not my cup of tea” or the always lovely “Dear Author” rejections. Then were the rejections from those who requested material. I even had a phone call from an agent who said that she could tell that I “write from the heart”…BUT, Civil War was not selling so she didn’t want to take me on at that time. She told me to consider self publishing. I thanked her for her time. From the other rejection letters, I got no hints on what was wrong except by one kind agent who looked at a partial. She took the time to give me some real insight in a few paragraphs. She was the one who said that I was near publishable. Anyway, I read her rejection over and over…come to me wisdom, come.
After a lovely Mother’s Day afternoon with my son and hubby, walking the southern shores of Lake Michigan and a beach picnic, I came home and started reading the book. Much to my surprise, it was better than I had remembered. (I love those special moments when were stunned at our own good writing – Wow! Did I write that?!?!) I couldn’t stop reading the book. I found that after some time and distance, I could see what the agent was talking about. I could also see what that “too wordy” judge was talking about. After taking some time and studying the craft, I can now see the problems where I couldn’t before. Over three years, I had grown as a writer and grown in my writing! They were right—there is too much back story…there are some problems with the conversation…and it was too wordy in places. I have a whole new feeling about this book. I can take the constructive criticism and learn from it, instead of pouting and pitching a fit that “nobody understands!”
I’m setting out to do what needs to be done to this book. Then I’m going to query it again. We’ll see what happens, but in the meantime, I have a new feeling of excitement—the joy of writing has returned from an unexpected source!
Have you ever picked up an old story that you have shelved? What were your feelings when you read it? Was it salvageable? Did you get excited about it again? When do you feel the joy of writing? Have you ever gone through old rejection letters for hints on your writing? Did you learn from them? I would love to hear from you…
Between you, me and the gatepost,