Keeping Hope Alive

It’s Monday. Time for another Boldness in the Face of Anxiety post, and this one has me feeling particularly vulnerable…

Keeping Hope Alive - sad in woods with book

I’ve battled depression on and off since my teen years (although some in my family will likely deny it). It’s under control for the most part. I see a therapist regularly—btw, there is NO SHAME in admitting that—but that doesn’t mean there aren’t “flare-ups,” and the last few days have had me struggling.

I don’t toot my own horn often. Actually, Thomas can attest to the fact that I usually do the opposite. But one thing I know and will admit is: I’m a good writer, and despite that understanding, the submission process has slowly chipped away at my confidence.

It’s not just the agent search. It’s #AMM, #RevPit, #WriterMentor, and all the other contests, too. Time and time again, it’s sending out queries and samples with either no response or a form rejection.

Something is obviously not working, but I don’t know what. My manuscript is polished—well polished, I might say. It’s been through twelve versions, two age-ups for the main character, multiple critique groups/partners and beta readers, and two editors (previous versions). I think it’s safe to say that it’s pretty strong. So, what the **** is the problem? The answer: I don’t know.

It’s a numbers game; I get that. And tastes are subjective—I think I read that in every rejection letter. But there’s a point where this process can break you, and if I’m being honest, I came very close to it last week. Rejection after rejection after rejection. No guidance. No suggestions. Shoot, no indication that my stuff was even read (I’m not suggesting that it wasn’t, btw).

Last week hit me extra hard because both #RevPit and #WriterMentor announced their winners. Of course, I wasn’t among them. I can handle it, but what I think really got to me was that not one person requested additional material to read/review. That’s when doubt really begins to grow. When I start doubting my ability. My story opens with my teenage protagonist finding her mother dead from a drug overdose…not exactly a boring subject, so it must be me, right?

Keeping Hope Alive - crumpled paper

The problem is: I don’t know what’s not working…just that I keep falling short. And this time around, it didn’t roll off my back in its usual fashion. Self-pity began to creep in. I’ve been at this for so long and spilled so much blood (you don’t want to know), sweat, and tears that Thomas would never let me quit…but I’ll be honest, the thought sincerely crossed my mind Friday—I was that low.

As a general rule, I don’t make decisions like that on a whim. I give it time, allow logic to put in its two cents, then go from there. Logically, I knew I wouldn’t quit, but it doesn’t make the feeling any easier to handle. Unfortunately, the only thing I could do was give it time.

I told you earlier that I see a therapist. One of the things she told me a couple months ago is: the person who gets the agent is the one who doesn’t give up. Her words ran on involuntary repeat in my head. I took a day to veg—to not worry about writing or editing or submitting. Nothing.

And then I received an unexpected email Saturday afternoon. It was from one of the #WriterMentor mentors. She thanked me for submitting to her and said my query made her nervous about the quality of my novel, “but your pages BLEW ME AWAY! They are SO good. I want to read the rest of this novel as a published book and think you are ready to start submitting to agents.”

Wow! As many rejections as I’ve received lately, I had trouble processing her words. My pages blew her away? WOW! So, my query letter is my current weak link. I can work with that…it needs more drive and stakes in the summary portion. My mind went into overload at first. It actually took me several hours to respond and thank her for feedback. It gave me the direction I needed…the knowhow on what I need to focus on.

Keeping Hope Alive - lying in flowers

You may be asking if that depressive feeling is still present. Honestly, yes, but not as much. I’m hoping as the days go by and I tweak my query letter summary, it’ll get less and less. Hope is what I need to keep going. To lead me to success. So, I’ll be keeping hope alive. And I hope you are, too, with your project.

‘Til next time!


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