Last week I watched an interview on Gina Holmes, best-selling author of Crossing Oceans and Dry as Rain. In the interview, she shared her long, discouraging journey to publication. For her, it took ten years. For others it may take twenty. We could and should work hard, set goals, and pursue excellence as we follow God’s call, but ultimately, the results of our efforts rest in God’s hands. Knowing this, trusting in God’s faithful and sovereign nature, enables us to enjoy the journey. To remember that it is a journey–of learning, of growing, of being transformed in thought and character. Today Jennifer Hallmark shares her thoughts on rejection–something none of us enjoy but all of us need. No truly, we do. 🙂
So Much Good from a Rejection by Jennifer Hallmark
My prayer started like this: God, I want to be a writer. After writing for our church newsletter, God reminded me I was a writer. I rephrased my prayer: God, I want to be a published writer. Several free article websites and blogs later, God reminded me that I was a published writer. Next prayer: God, I’d like to be a paid published writer…Maybe I wasn’t being specific enough. Or maybe God just has a better sense of humor than I give Him credit for.
We are interested in seeing your proposal for Journey of Grace: a New Beginning. After my heart returned to its regular rhythm, my emotions ranged from thrilled to scared to amazed. My first novel had gained a publisher’s interest after only a few submissions. The new indie publisher, Written World Communications actually read my query and wanted to see more.
Their imprint Harpstrings’ editor at the time, Rowena Kuo, gave my information and three chapters a good edit and returned it with a cartridge’s worth of red ink. She suggested several ways to improve my manuscript like more showing and active verbs. Ms. Kuo then offered to review my entire manuscript after I made the corrections.
I worked at fever pitch to rework whole sections of my manuscript. Along the way, I met a freelance editor through the ACFW who helped me with the edits, easing my job and teaching me much along the way. Two months later, I delivered my newly worked “baby” to Ms. Kuo where it received a good review at the publication board before ultimately being rejected.
Ouch. I took time to recover after the entire process, sifting out the good from the disappointment. I’d made new friends with the freelance editor and Ms. Kuo, besides improving my manuscript ten-fold. I had also met deadlines and received much practice with edits and rewrites.
Ms. Kuo also expressed an interest in seeing any short stories I’d written for their magazine, Harpstring. After several email conversations, my first short story, The Black and White Arm was published in the summer 2011 issue. In December, the winter 2011-12 issue of Harpstring ran my second short story, Finally Home.
Another editor at Written World Communications, Chris Richards, is now considering my third story for a different magazine, Timeless. I’m a paid, published writer. Maybe it’s time to pray a paid, published novelist…
The moral to this story? God has his own way, timing, and plan that far exceeds anything my finite mind can imagine. He’s called me to this dance, but only if He leads. When I follow him, He takes me to places unknown, meeting people, and experiencing life and wonder as never before. So much good from a rejection.
Jennifer Hallmark is an author and women’s ministry consultant. She has a website, http://www.jenniferhallmark.com, and blog, jenlhall63.blogspot.com. Her first novel, Journey of Grace: A New Beginning, is currently searching for a good home. Jennifer resides with her husband Danny in Alabama and loves her family, her dog Max, and coffee shops, in no particular order.
When dealing with rejection:
1) Don’t take it personally. There are countless reasons why a publisher or editor turns down a novel or piece. Perhaps they’ve recently published something similar. Maybe it doesn’t quite fit their style or mission. Or perhaps you’re just not ready. Think of it as a marathon. Don’t expect to cross that finish line if you haven’t logged the miles.
2) Use it as a learning opportunity. It’s easy to justify our writing, to find reasons to discount feedback we’ve received, but justification leads to stagnation. Honest, informed evaluation leads to improvement.
3) Draw near to God and seek His guidance. If you’re on the wrong path, writing a story that’s not quite right for you He’ll redirect you. If you’re following His lead, He’ll encourage you. Either way, He knows exactly where He wants to take you and when and how you’ll get their.
4) Read and gain encouragement from stories of how other authors found publication. Most often, you’ll find it was the result of years of sweat, insecurity, and tears.
5) JOIN A CRITIQUE GROUP. As iron sharpens iron, right?
6) Stay in community.
What about you? Do you have a rejection story you can share? One that stung initially, but later turned out to be a blessing? We’d love to hear it!