So began the response to my 127th query. My heart leapt up into my throat and I couldn’t breathe. I wanted nothing more than to scream wildly, while jumping up and down. For years I had been writing with nothing to show for it. But now, a literary agent was interested.
“Good job!” My Dad gave me a thumbs up when I told him the news. My Mom and sister hugged me. My life was finally falling into place.
My Dad died two days later and my world fell apart. Shallow as it may seem, the only thing holding me together was the fact that I had an agent. My family and I were going to be all right, my literary career was on track.
God help me, but during the visitation and the funeral, when someone asked what I was up to, for once I was able to respond, “Well, I have a literary agent interested in my novel.”
I told everyone. How could I not? I now could look people in the eye. I was going to make my Dad proud of me.
The following week, the literary agent and I talked. She was kind, patient and sent her own condolences for the loss of my father. She had some revisions for me to tackle and asked that we enter into a three-month exclusive agreement. In the fall she would attend a conference and afterwards … well, she dropped the words “contract” and “publishers” and I was in seventh heaven.
I revised and revised, and then I mapped out other ideas for a few prospective novels. From my research, a publishing company preferred to sign three-book deals and I wanted to be prepared.
That summer the days were scorching and sluggish. Those three months seemed to go on forever. The literary agent and I spoke every few weeks, touching base. She went to the conference and I waited a couple days before contacting her. After all, I didn’t want to come across as desperate.
I wrote her a quick note and a day or two passed before I received a reply.
Dear Veronica, this is a difficult letter for me to write…
My eyes blurred from tears. I had just been dumped by my literary agent. Not only was it an affront to my ego, it was an embarrassment. Slowly it dawned on me, I had told my whole family, my cousins, my neighbours, basically everyone and their brother, that I had a literary agent and was on the verge of my dream coming true. When in reality, all I had was a professional who showed a marginal amount of interest.
I was not about to beg the literary agent to reconsider. In fact, I never wrote back.
I fell into a deep depression. It was more than the loss of the dream; for months I had held my grief in check and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Unable to do much more than lie on the living room couch and ache, alternating with tears, the next couple of months were hell.
My Mom knew there was only one solution. “Have you written anything new?” She asked.
“No.” I shook my head.
“Maybe you should.”
I lasted only a couple of days before I took up my pen and was scribbling out the beginnings of a new novel. I would not wish my experiences on any author, but I came out of it a better and stronger person and writer.
Don't let rejection and hardship get the better of you. Keep doing what you love. And as John Green says, "What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?"
Have you ever had your dreams squashed during a difficult period of your life? How did you get through it?
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