A Time for Excitement, A Season for Waiting
The beginning of 2016 a roller coaster, and I wish I had started blogging earlier–because suddenly, things are slowing down. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just taken some adjusting after all the excitement that recently came my way.
There are seasons for waiting, and I’ve hit one.
I finished my middle grade novel on December 6th, 2015. I let a few friends take a look at it before going back to look again myself. I spent a few weeks cleaning it up, then began to submit it to literary agents. This was not my first time submitting an unsolicited manuscript, so I was surprised when one of them immediately requested to read the full book. Then another. And another. Until there were sixteen reading it. Even better, they were saying very nice things about it.
I don’t say this to brag. Not even close. Believe me, I’ve gotten lots of heartbreaking, soul-crushing, “Dear Author, no thanks” rejections over the last few years. Hundreds, actually. And I got some with this one. One in particular stuck with me:
I was sitting in LaGuardia eating second-dinner (it was a long night of several flight delays, so first dinner wasn’t enough), when a new email buzzed onto my phone. Each time I got an email from a literary agent during those days, my heart stopped so suddenly I went light-headed. The words that started these agents’ emails—”Dear Austin, I’ve had a chance to read . . .“—might be the most blood-curdling in the English language. At least for a writer. Each time I got one of these emails, I knew it would do one of two things: kick-off my writing career or send me author into a short-lived bout of depression.
In the case of this agent, it was the latter. He didn’t hate my manuscript, he said, because he didn’t feel much of anything for it (which, in case you’re wondering, is much worse than if he’d hated it). It was unoriginal, he told me. Of course, this was one person’s opinion, but it was one person I had been praying would like my work. I closed the email, grabbed third-dinner, and went to wait for my flight.
By the way, to cap off a great night, the flight was canceled.
Rejections are part of the game though, and I’ve gotten better at moving on after them. By the time I woke up the next morning, I’d forgotten this rejection, because I had finally written something all the others who requested it liked (some even used the word love). Years of hard work were finally paying off.
I was lucky, because all this excitement aligned perfectly with my trip to NYC for a writing conference. I got to actually meet some of these agents, and one of them rejected me in person (surprisingly, it wasn’t as awkward as it sounds).
There was one agent in particular I truly felt connected with my writing. Our preliminary conversations went really well. I met her at the conference and felt even better about her. She loved my book and the world I created in it. She remembered the characters’ names and actually cared about them. She also had great ideas on how to improve the areas that needed work.
I came home from the conference, and we talked over the phone a few more times before I gave her the call. Although I had several other offer, I chose the best. I could not be happier to be working with Susan, and I’m thrilled to see what we accomplish together with this book.
All of this, however, leads back to waiting. A small, naive part of me thought I’d done enough of that–waiting for agents to reject or request my manuscript, waiting for them to read it, waiting for our scheduled phone calls.
But now there’s more–waiting for edits, then revising and waiting for more edits. Eventually we will be waiting for submissions to editors. Then revising some more.
I’m not complaining. Yes, waiting is hard, and those weeks were exciting. There are times for excitement in all areas of life, but there are also seasons for waiting, and I’ve hit one. I’ve gotten good at being patient, though, and patience is what will lead to selling this book.
We will sell this book, and I hope that anyone who is looking at this will stick with me long enough to read it. I can’t wait to hear what you think.