I am very honored to host the brilliant Faith Hough (check out her blog here). Faith is an incredible writer-mama and is the queen of multi-tasking. In addition to that, she's actually also my cousin =) Anyway, without further ado, may I present to you the genius of Faith Hough!!
When Anne Marie asked me to write a post on “Thoughts on Getting Published,” my first reaction was, “Well, I don’t know anything about getting published. I’m not published yet.” But the truth is I know a whole lot of stuff about not getting published--and how great it is.
Yes, you read that right. NOT getting published is the best thing that ever happened to my writing. Each of the hundred-some times it happened. Here’s why:
|Maddie and Faith|
A year later....my first rejection. I was crushed. Much chocolate was consumed. I cried. My one-year-old first born rubbed my cheek in bewilderment. With my own bewilderment, I re-opened my manuscript, prepared to be wowed by my writing prowess and angry at the fools who turned it down.
Instead, I noticed a major grammar error on the first page. A few pages in, I saw a historical inaccuracy. After ten minutes or so of reading I realized I used the word “felt” far too often. The writing, instead of stunning me, looked amateurish and stilted. It was nowhere near the level of the new book I was working on.
Fortunately, most writers have this exact experience, and we all realize how much better we are for it. A few unfortunate young writers hit just the right spot in the market and are able to get their first books published far too early--because the publishing business is indeed a business and they’re there to make money. When I chuckle at the bad writing in published, highly successful (and oft-ridiculed) books, I now try to remember that, “There but for the grace of God go I...”
I do believe the grace of God has plenty to do with it. Certainly I’m not the only writer who has given in to falling to her knees and begging God to “Please please please please please let them publish my book!” like a three-year-old begging for candy. But just like I know that too many jelly beans would be bad for my toddler, God knows that success at the wrong time would be bad for me.
My more recent works (I’ve written five complete novel manuscripts altogether) are more polished and sophisticated than that first foray, but I’m still trying to be grateful every time one of them is turned down by an agent or editor. Sometimes God allows me to see the advantages of His timing. Sometimes I’m left in the dark. But as He’s never been wrong so far, I figure I owe it to Him to “be thankful in all circumstances.”
One of my literary heroes, Madeleine L’Engle, dealt with this same issue. Her agent submitted A Wrinkle in Time over a period of ten years, only to meet with rejection after rejection. A few nice editors told her how much they liked it but were afraid to publish it for various reasons. She was crushed. At one point she decided to give up writing and try working on making better pie crusts instead...until she was distracted from her despair by trying to figure out exactly how she could portray it in words. Finally, at the end of those ten years, a chance meeting brought her into contact with an editor from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He loved it. He told her not to expect to make any money from such an odd story, but he decided to publish it nonetheless. It went on, of course, to win the Newbery Medal, sell over ten million copies, and become a lasting favorite of generations. In her book A Circle of Light, Madeleine acknowledges her debt to God for allowing all those rejections and for saying “no” to her prayers year after year. Clearly, His timing was perfect.
Of course all writers want to be published; if we’re bothering to write, which is no easy task, we want our words to reach as many people as possible. But I advise you not to worry. Make good art--and leave it in God’s hands. Take every rejection as an opportunity: to hone your skills, to study the great writers, to develop trust. To build up life experience which can only better your subsequent work.
And if you’re currently in the submission trenches, I do hear that you can order chocolate from Amazon via Subscribe and Save... Chocolate always helps. :)