My writing journey reminds me daily that there are many things I can’t control.
As a wife, I can control my words and actions…my emotional investment in my marriage. As a mother, I can control the way I raise my kids, the food I feed their bodies and their minds. And as a marketer, I have a fair amount of control over deadlines, strategy and the finished product of my campaigns.
Admittedly, I may have wandered into this writing relationship under the false pretence that I had a certain element of control over the outcome…boy was I wrong! While I have the ability to control what I write, there is no guarantee that my writing will resonate with editors and agents, regardless of how often I edit.
A couple weeks ago I received interest from two agents as a result of a pitch party. Last week, I received responses from both. The first provided very thorough feedback that she appreciated the read but knew she could not sell my manuscript to editors and would unfortunately need to pass. She mentioned my actual manuscript was a little different than what she envisioned based on my pitch and that editors already had too many monster books so she was having trouble selling the ones she already had.
The second agent was more vague in her feedback. She mentioned that she loved my ideas and that I was on her radar and welcomed the opportunity for me to submit in the future…nonetheless, she said she did not love the manuscript as much as she needed to take on the project and ultimately passed as well.
Immediately, I considered the feedback. Two agents passing on the same manuscript after requesting – something was wrong. Should I change the main characters to something other than monsters? Should I revise my pitch? It was gaining a lot of interest but was it creating an unrealistic vision of the actual manuscript…should I spend more time finding accurate comps to include in my pitch since that would provide a clearer vision of the finished product…or maybe this writing dream was simply that…a dream.
Fortunately, I remembered one of my favorite quotes: If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but never the goal. A few days earlier, I had spoken to an agent friend of mine about my progress. She sensed my frustration and responded by asking “Did you know the book “The Day the Crayons Quit” was rejected by 70+ agents and now it’s a best seller?” I did not, but hearing this was an optimistic reminder that it only takes one yes…and that I shouldn’t change the goal, only the plan.
So today, on National Day of Writing, I spent the morning in the children’s section of the library with my daughter, soaking in the words of writers who have already traveled the long journey to publication, persevering through its highs, lows and endless unknowns, their books lining the walls like trophies. I searched the shelves for mentor books which might provide clues on how to further groom my manuscript and after an hour of searching, had a stack ten tall of amazing stories. The highlight of my search came when I discovered Emily Gravett’s “Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears“, a perfect comp for the thesaurus-inspired picture book I had received feedback on – a huge win!
As I left the library with my daughter I realized – writing is a lot like parenting. Like agents and editors, each child is unique and responds differently. We may have to change the plan often, but the goal remains the same – to raise independent, respectful, confident human beings. We must make each decision blindly and do not see the results of our decisions until years after they are made. We make decisions with our children’s best interests in mind but that’s all we can do…we do the best we CAN!
So remember, whether you’re a writer, mother, father or someone chasing a lifelong dream, keep going!!! Yes, taking risks means you could fail but it could also change your life or someone else’s in ways you’ve never imagined.