Sitting in the Writers’ Coffee House on Saturday afternoon, listening to a panel of veterans share candidly about the industry, I continue to reflect on my first-ever experiences here at She Speaks 2011 this weekend. I think of myself as a confident soul, with a healthy self esteem. Turns out even the confident ones have room to grow that confidence deeper by clinging to God alone.
After spending six weeks obsessing about demographics, markets, comparable literature, and my publishing pedigree, I had a small challenge with remaining objective about the original purpose of my appointments: to have gone through the exercise enough to get the maximum benefit from the conference. To prepare for my first experience, I took a class a month before the conference, about preparing the perfect pitch. This gave me the words to say, at a time when this writer tends to get tongue tied: whenever the words have extra importance.
My first 15 minute appointment went according to the script. Except that I forgot to practice parts the editor might say. So my words tumbled out in a rush, I struggled mightily to refrain from self-deprecation, and when the door opened with 90 seconds left on my timer, I quickly wrapped up and left--without ever allowing the editor to ask me any questions about my project, or offering her a copy of my proposal. Whoops. She took a copy of my one-sheet book description, but as I felt the need to thank her for having been my “first interview,” I feel fairly confident that she will not be pursuing me this year on the basis of that (lovely, thanks to my amazing husband) piece of paper.
This first representative did manage to squeeze in a few words when I got to the question, “What are you looking for right now?” She responded smoothly that they are “looking for authors with an established platform, with whom we could partner to help market the book.” And I know I am not there. Then she offered a few suggestions on ways to grow my blog audience in order to get to the point where her publisher might have more interest in taking a chance on me.
Truthfully, this appointment went about as well as I expected, although I still experienced a sense of letdown afterward, a knowledge that on this day, I had yet to be “discovered” by the world. But I had the second appointment looming in 26 hours, to pull me through.
For the second appointment, I vowed to show more personality, to engage the editor more before launching into my project description. This second editor asked me for the chapter outline, and when I showed it, she did not seem to quite understand it. While friendly, she explained that as written, the project does not fit with their target demographic. She gave me a few indications of how the project would be attractive to her publisher, but declined to take even a copy of my one-sheet.
I walked out with my head held high, a little stunned that I had no thread of hope to hold on to that the second editor might ever call. And an hour later, here I sit in the conference room, heart breaking on the inside as I realize the advice being shared so freely by Lysa TerKeurst, Mary DeMuth, and the others does not apply to me yet. All my talking and writing, all the sacrifice of my family as I stretch the fabric to create more me time, and the world has yet to even open this 44 page document I worked so hard to create.
And from the depths of my being, all the hopes, the anticipation, the fatigue, the disappointment, the everything--they well up and with sinking heart I recognize what comes: the ugly cry. Right here in front of my writing mentors and heroes. Jesus, help me.
The session ends, and I find myself falling apart all over a sweet twenty-something twitter friend from Dallas, who has the perfect shoulder to cry on. I. Hate. Sobs. I avoid it often enough that when it comes, I have no idea how to stop it. Public or not, the crying will run its full course.
In the hours that follow, I remember my earlier “Choose to go deeper” moments, and I know that here I have come against a hard stop. Here I recognize that before I am ready with something of value to share, I need to sink my roots deeper into Jesus. I have followed Jesus since childhood; yet in the ache of my heart over this moment that should not have hit so painfully, I conclude that I have just barely scratched the surface of God’s mighty work in my life. And I sense God asking me to start a journey that digs much deeper, so that at a point further down the road I might have something of even greater value to share.
"She is like a tree, planted by streams of water..."
Not that discipling my children, developing a new ministry at church, and blogging have small value in the Now. All of those things have great value, and I am content to have those outlets for the message burning within me. But publication? I am only at the beginning of a long road, and that will grow naturally out of the overflow as I turn my energy to the near things.
God used a firm rejection to protect me from overextending myself, or even expending too much time in anticipation during this season of beginning homeschooling. How about you? How has God used rejection to protect you?
Coming Monday: How God physically answered me in my quest to sink my roots deeper.