It’s Too Late To Turn Back Now

Going the distance with a passion requires more than ironclad resolve. It requires ignorance and fearlessness, in equal parts. Too much information can paralyze a person and leave her at the starting gate. If I knew then what I know now sort of thing I might not have… <insert your ‘not have’>.

In my case, I would insert written a book after not have. It’s not the writing I wouldn’t have done. Writing is who I am. I will continue to write even if my hands and fingers wither with age. There isn’t a choice for me, for others there are options, but in my case, I am mated for life with pen and pad. If I had known about the non-writing aspects of being an author back at the start, I don’t know if I’d be here now. I was out there with Ray Kinsella building my own Field of Dreams-write it and they will come.

If I knew how much work was involved in finding an agent (entire publishing process) blogging, tweeting, and Facebook-ing (social media circus) and self marketing (Look at me, I’m special), I’m not entirely certain I would have ever started down the path of being a novelist. Now, having one complete novel under my belt, a second one nearly complete, and a third with the first chapter written, it’s too late to turn back. For me there is only forward.

Even though I am in writer’s hell—agent query coaster—I don’t regret my ignorance. Back at page one, line one, draft 1.0, I didn’t know what I didn’t know and was damn happy. I had never received an email that went like this

“Not for us, thanks.”
“Dear Author”  (not even my name)
“Thanks, but no thanks.”

The first rejection letter left me motionless in my mind. There was no activity inside expect for breathing, which I assume was running via a back up generator. I was among the living but I as not with them. I sat inside of my mental writer’s room for what felt like days too numb to move. The words from the first Dear No-Name Author letter burned on the back of my retinas, always readable, day, night, eyes open or closed. After what felt like a lifetime, I finally confessed to a close friend I had received my first rejection letter. Of course, being a dramatic Latina and a fragile writer I had to choke the words out over a glass of wine. I felt a failure.

I remember asking him how does a person fail at having a passion. Up until that moment, I never once considered failure. I built my field of dreams on four hundred fifty neatly manicured pages that had undergone multiple revisions, changed tenses, survived numerous edits, several by my hand and two hefty edits by another (side note to all novelists  – when you’re ready, find someone else to do the final edits, someone who you click with, trust, and whom you pay.)

My friend told me after I dabbed my eyes and swallowed the rest of the wine that one day soon this part of the process would just be another story. He was right, of course, but it would take a few more rejections before I found my inner moxie to write about it without sounding like the virgin novelist that I am. The truth is I am walking over new ground. With every step forward, I leave behind a footprint, reminding me how far I have traveled from the first page, the first line, the first draft, to THE END, and finally, to ‘Dear Author’.

My resolve remains ironclad and steadfast. It’s too damn late for me to turn back now, and honestly, I don’t know if I would even if I could. I remain, ignorant and fearless, in equal parts. I keep my gaze forward but that doesn’t stop me from looking back over the steps I’ve walked. If not for the road I travelled, I’d not be here now.

How about you, what does your Field of Dreams look like?

Post Script: A full and a partial of my manuscript is out with a couple of agents.

Am I happy?  Cautiously, so.
What’s Next? No idea until I take another step forward.
Do I regret writing the novel knowing what I know now?  Hell no.  How can I regret doing something this big and that opened a brave new world to me. I’m loving in, every moment. 

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by

I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

37 thoughts on “It’s Too Late To Turn Back Now

  1. My God, Brenda! I am holding my breathe for you and keeping my eyes and fingers and legs crossed! Try not to lose heart. The rejections sting, but then it’s part of the process. Keep your passion! You’ve already accomplished what most of us just dream of! You’ve written a novel. And people are going to read it!
    Linda Medrano recently posted…."Stick It In A Bag – But Don’t Tell Anybody!"My Profile

    • Linda, I am holding on tight. Clearly I’ve had my bad days with a few more ahead of me, that being said, I keep on plugging. I have not idea where the heck I will end up, but might was well ride it out and see where I end up. I truly appreciate your support, you’d be surprised how far the thoughtful words go.

  2. Welll I guess you just made me feel a whole lot better about feeling so low about writing and why-do-I-bother and what’s-it-all-about-anyhow? If someone like you has bad days now and again then I must accept that I am likely to have a whole lot more of them and that it is still OK…….Good luck with the agent! xxx
    Edith recently posted….Writing Short Stories for Women’s MagazinesMy Profile

    • Edith my dear, it’s just a part of the process. Hate it but it’s true. Not to mention with the advent of blogging and instant fame, every one is writing these days. Being a writer isn’t exclusive anymore, now writers are a dime a dozen. Sad, but true. The trick is to distinguish yourself from all the other Tom, Dicks, and Marys. Hang in there.

  3. I am exactly where you are, Brenda. It took me forever to get over those first rejections and, even worse, the silence from people who don’t have the time or decency or both to respond at all. Knocked the wind out of me and I, too, wondered if I could move forward. I got over it. I now have three queries out and am trying to wait patiently. It’s so difficult . . . but, I believe in my writing. I know what I’ve written is worthy of reading. And, as you said, it’s too late to turn back now. I would be denying a God-given talent. No way will I do that!
    Blessings to you and prayers that you will have good news soon!
    Martha Orlando recently posted…."All Night, All Day, Angels Watching Over Me, My Lord . . ."My Profile

    • Thanks kindly, Martha. I knew this was part of the process but nothing truly prepares you for it until you live it, now I get it and rock over the rough patches with more grace. A good virtual friend told me last week my fatal flaw was taking it personally. I knew instantly what she meant and found my sea legs. Is going to be easier going forward, probably not, but at least I am back in the saddle and smiling. You too, my friend. Keep moving.

    • Thanks, Cindy. We do bleed on our pages do we not. I’ve wrapped myself in gauze now so I can withstand the hard knocks. I need to write you, I am not able to click past your home page. Will try again now.

    • Kelly – from you lips to Tinker Bell’s ears. After the initial feeling of wonderment, which I am sure all writer’s go through I found my way back to higher ground. It’s part of the process. Even though I had read about it I didn’t translate the impact into how it would make me feel. It’s one more thing behind me, and as my friend told me, it’s just another story.

  4. You have come so far Brenda. You are one of those writers for who writing is breath and pure instinct combined. When you get your own Agent it will be complete validation of this and we will all rejoice with you!
    My own field of dreams is simply to get my novel finished for my children. It would be nice to see my poems published one day but I don’t dwell on this as I find it cramps my style by making me anxious and then I don’t do my best. Who knows what the future holds?

    • Elizabeth – I hope we have the opportunity to meet one day. You’ve been a wonderful supporter since I started broadcasting my words here in my little corner of the virtual world.

    • Adriana – I don’t know awaits me on this road, but it sure has been eye opening in respect to myself as a writer, a person, and a dreamer. Thanks much for your kind words.

  5. Brenda, I feel the same way about writing. If I knew then… Which is why I’ve decided to table working on that memoir. I love writing, but it was so intense, with all the other elements that take the joy out of it. For me, it’s enough I get to blog and do my own thing. I love writing and blogging is such a perfect outlet for it.
    Monica recently posted….Southern California’s JewelMy Profile

    • Monica – It’s a learning process. In a way I am glad I didn’t obsess over the industry at the start of the yellow brick road or I might never had gotten this far. Now that I am here I might as well see what’s waiting for me. It does feel as if I have found my passion at the wrong time given the upside down state of the industry but it’s really never too late to spent a penny on a dream.

  6. I love this post … write it and they will come indeed.

    I think a lot of wannabe writers (myself included) don’t write because of the fear of rejection, the fear of failure and of not being good enough. Not considering failure as a possibility or an option is really good and it worked.

    You can be so unbelievably proud of yourself. And all the hard work will pay off, it has paid off. You have a complete novel that you are submitting to agents. It’s a tough market, but the fact that you are being productive and putting in the work is fantastic.

    Good luck!
    Melissa recently posted….Weekly Writing Prompt – Link-UpMy Profile

    • Thanks much, Melissa. I don’t know that I feared rejection at the start of the writing process. I was more stunned at my reaction after receiving the first couple. My sensitive little writer’s heart near broke in two until my inner Xena kick my ample bum across the room. Now I get it. I believe the trick is to not lose faith in yourself (is easy to do) but to remember it’s subjective (oh so very) and keep writing ( for yourself more than anyone else) and if you’ve equal ignorance and fearlessness (who doesn’t) then keep on. I have faith in my writing, which… deep breath, took me a while to just trust in your voice and not give a hoot about anything else.

  7. “I had to choke the words out over a glass of wine” – well, could have been worse… no friend and no wine. Baby steps :)
    I agree with Kelly: You have talent and it won’t go unnoticed. Like hiring an editor, you will find an agent with whom you will ‘click’. Guess you’re still kissing frogs.
    The publishing industry is undergoing radical change right now… and I’m not really sure what the phrase “traditional publishing” will mean in a few years (months?). There are so many options; don’t limit yourself!
    Great post! Thanks for keeping us all inspired.
    Astra recently posted….Breaking up is hard to do…My Profile

    • Very true, Astra. No wine would have been brutal, but having to talk to the wall, worse. I confess when I started I didn’t pay attention to the publishing side of things, I just wrote, and wrote and wrote. I am glad for this because knowing what I know now … and how everyone is taking up pad and pen only makes it harder. Still, I am not giving up or limiting myself. Once I finish the second book (shooting for end of summer) and if I’ve not landed somewhere I can move to plan b (after I define it). Thanks kindly for the positive worlds they are always appreciated.

  8. Wow passionate pursuits. Many familiar commenters, but a new find for me. My passion is a driving force that knows no boundaries. Everything i do comes wrap up with complete confidence, belief, and dare i say faith. My skills, endurance and nerve are tested daily, at times i don’t know what will happen, but what i do know, without a doubt, is i’ll fulfill my destiny, achieve all my goals. Its a dead cert. So stick with your belief, and wait for that pubishers acceptance note to slip through your letterbox. SEE iT!
    Larry Lewis recently posted….It’s Only Natural to Worry About Our KidsMy Profile

    • Hi Larry – powerful words that I’ve imprinted on the back of my retinas. Visualization is mighty powerful as you’ve said. I’m holding on to that image. Thanks much for stopping by and sharing your philosophies.

  9. Rejections SUuuuUCKS.
    I know some people that post them as wall paper near their computers.
    “SHUuuuuT up!” I say.
    I rip mine up and throw them in the garage can.
    But one day….I have no doubt, I will get the one that says, “CONGRATULATIONS, we will be happy to….”
    & You will too, Brenda. I have no hesitation about that fact.
    Not. One. Bit.
    xxxxx
    My Inner Chick recently posted….BLOG LIKE GAGAMy Profile

    • Kim, you are right, it sucks and it’s brutal, but sadly it’s part of the process. I am into girl empowerment music at the moment, think Kelly singing, What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… well, so it is. I have to do what Larry suggested and see the offer coming through my in box or getting that phone call. I see it know. And hugs and kisses for your support and generosity, it means a great deal.

  10. k~

    Thank you Brenda, now my first rejection letter was delivered through a vicarious means of foresight, through a wonderfully passionate writer that I admire. If you go back (thinking) maybe it’s sideways… about 30 steps, that’s where I am, still processing the not-so-perfectly-manicured pages that have only been edited by my hand because they are not yet ready for another set of eyes yet. I am gifted with a wonderful editor though, and I am comfortable with her bright purple pen. This is my biggest, boldest “Field of Dreams” to tackle, but certainly not my first.

    I can imagine myself writing back to the with a letter that would knock their boring socks off. Pffft, how dare they not even notice your name! Did I mention that I am rather protective of those I care about? So, uhm… what was that address? grinZ

    Seriously, I read a long time ago (and accepted on some level) that one of my favorite authors (don’t ask who, I was 12 at the time and don’t recall who I was reading about, this list is rather extensive now) received 100 rejection slips before they ever considered publication. The book/author, is a very well known book/author… I just don’t recall who it was. He took each rejection slip (after the third) and pasted them on his wall as they returned. His new goal was to cover the wall with them. He didn’t quite make it before someone picked it up and published it. What that said to me was that even the best, most admired authors have to find the right fit for their words to be presented to the public. I think I will use coloured tacks and string so I can create a geometric model while I collect mine 😉
    k~ recently posted….Hot Fun in the Hummer TimeMy Profile

    • k~

      Hahah… typos and all… there was a (insert publishing house name here), but I forgot that when I use the lesser and greater brackets online that it hides whatever is inside of it… so you have missing words in my post… and all kinds of unedited text. 😉
      k~ recently posted….Hot Fun in the Hummer TimeMy Profile

    • K – I am over the worst part, which was losing faith in myself as a writer. Now I wonder what the heck I was thinking, but I suspect it’s part of the mind games we play on ourselves as we find our footing. I doubt I am free of doubt evermore, but at least I recognize it for what it is and can deal with it if I encounter it again. Sadly this is just part of the game. I have considered the timing of my quest. Here I am following a passion at a time when everybody else is writing and seeking their own sort of fame or 15 minutes. On the other hand, there isn’t a right or wrong time to do what you feel is inside your heart. I do see this book and the others bound and on shelves. I have to hold on to that sight. I think you’ve got the right idea – it’s instant armor, your geometric model. I had to settle for choking back the wine and some sound advice before I got my act together. Between your photos and poetry you should create a book on blurb.com. I’ve feeling you might have a hit on your hands.

  11. Brenda, I am halfway through my first novel and I know what you mean by having no choice but to write. I am sure all the writer’s receive many rejection letters before finally being accepted, braving myself for the same treatment :) Go for it, you are there already…best of luck

    • Sulekha – you’re right, we write our hearts out and then deal with the business side of things. The trick is to keep going and loving the journey. For me this has been the best part. I both love and hate it – the editing about did me in, then there was the query letter, or was it writing the second draft that killed me…oh wait, it was making 15 very long chapters into 35 or was it… and on and on. Each time I was at a tough spot I though it was hell, but I survived it. See what I mean?

  12. Brenda, now I know WHY you were thinking of me! I’ve been thinking of you as I couldn’t find time to read your magical words that I so admire. You know I’ve been where you are, you’ve followed my journey. Rejection is hard to swallow again and again, especially when you’re holding a nugget that people are waiting to read. Ignoring is worse yet. Remember, I queried for one full year before I chose to self-publish. This is part of the process that gives us the true grit needed to withstand what we may face on the other side.

    You’re an amazing writer, Brenda. This publishing world is whirling on it’s edge and still uncertain how it lwill and. I don’t know how long you’ve been querying, but don’t give up. It’s their loss, not yours. Even though no one picked me up during that year, I knew that self-published authors were being snatched up before the print had dried. This dream is still possible!

    One question…are you submitting a marketing plan within your query letter? Most publishers want you to do much of the work toward marketing your own book, especially a no-name writer. They’re more apt to pick up someone who supplies this agenda up front.

    I’m here for you, so feel free to email me with any questions you have.

    Wishing you a perfect agent just waiting for your story! lol

    • Thanks, Nancy. I started this past March, not a life time by any stretch, but it’s still a process. My book is fiction so my submission requirements are different. I follow the Agent’s requirements to the letter. Once even specified the type of SASE to use – seriously. Given the flux of the industry many authors are side stepping agents all together and going the self-publishing route. I’ve been researching it but I won’t throw myself in that direction until I’ve finished writing the second book and have time to give it my all. In the meantime I will continue to send out letters and ride the query coaster. I am not in a bad spot at the moment, but it’s not over until the ink is dried. I am so excited for you by the way. Let me know if you’re doing one of those blog tours and want a place to visit. Hugs!

  13. Your friend is right, Brenda this will turn in to the subject of another book for sure. Do you know that when I think of a splendid writer such as yourself getting rejection letters, I start to wonder where that would leave me. But I do believe we’ve not been given these dreams to have them come to nought. So we’ll keep keep dreaming and writing and they will come – they have no choice 😉
    PS: And they’re coming ever closer, I see. So happy for you.
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted….The Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes SyndromeMy Profile

    • You know, Corinne, at the time I thought he was crazy, but I know he is right. Regardless of what the future holds for me I’ll not have changed a single thing. I’ve grown in more ways than I thought possible. I am a dreamer and a romantic, lethal but necessary for fighting forward.

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