My trip to Michigan this past week was simply amazing!
I was privileged to once again attend Speak Up, the speaker's/writer's conference sponsored by my friend, Carol Kent. Several hundred women (and a few brave men) from 35 different states and three Canadian provinces came together for one fantastic time of learning, worshipping the Father and connecting.
My roommate, Dyann, was from California. We met via email before hand and became quick friends as we shared our writing challenges and dreams. Simply Fantastic!
A publishing company held an advance contest then chose 21 articles to be included in an anthology entitled: Faith and Freedom. The article I submitted was one of those chosen! That was exciting and will now move me into the "Published" category. Woo Hoo! Thanks for being excited with me.
The best news is this - I came away with a contract for my new book!!
No. No, I did not.
I did not come away with a book contract. I came away encouraged about my book. I came away with ideas for improvement. I came away with renewed passion. But the announcement of a contract will have to wait for another time.
Once I got home, life was rolling at full tilt. It was four days before I could look at the comments sent to me by one of the agents I met with. She had carefully reviewed my proposal and a sample chapter I'd emailed her before the conference. Our actual meeting time was brief so her overview had to be succinct.
She encouraged me to keep working at it and highlighted a couple of points. Needless to say, I was eager to get back home and read through her longer explanations.
But reading through her comments yesterday afternoon had the same effect on my enthusiasm as helium that's slowly leaking from a shiny balloon:
"I don't see anything unique here."
"Same comment as above."
"This story is too long; where is your focus?"
"What do you want the reader to see in this section?"
"I've read three proposals this week on this same topic. What's unique about your slant?"
"Same comment as above."
"Is there some other topic you're passionate about? This is too broad; too common."
(Can you hear the squeaky, high-pitched sound of air leaving a balloon slowly? Yep, that's what my heart sounded like as I read.)
I met Frank at home and gave him the cliff note version. Then I cried. Fortunately, we had company coming for dinner so I couldn't indulge in a full-blown pity party. There was a meal to finish preparing and a table to set.
This morning, Frank just pulled me close and let me cry again for a little while. He's a Good, GOOD man!
We talked some more about the review. Then finally, I was able to paint a word picture to help him understand how I felt.
"Honey, this editor has taken my manuscript, which feels like a baby to me and she has looked it over very carefully. These comments sound to me like she has said, 'Lady, your baby is ugly! You can't fix ugly. Maybe you should just try to have another one.' "
He looked at me with such a startled expression that it struck me funny. I reacted by doing the laugh/cry thing we women are so famous for. I'll always believe laughter truly is the best medicine.
We prayed together and I ran on to do a hospital visit while he started cleaning our yard. It's been an introspective kind of day for me. When someone declares your baby is ugly, you have to take a step back and regroup.
Fortunately, I have company that stops by this blog site on a regular basis. (That's YOU!) A new post was overdue. Still no time for a pity party. Thanks, dear readers, for being the catalyst I needed to make me get busy and write again; right now. Today!
Home-spun wisdom has always quoted the old cowboy. "Horse bucked you off? Grab those reins and get back on right now. Best cure is to ride again!"
Eventually, I'll be able to report to you: "I came away with a contract for my new book!" That isn't for today; but eventually.
Until then, I'll just keep loving on this "ugly baby" until it grows out of the ugly stage and finds it's place in the printed world. Who knows, there may even be a unique slant in that concept.
If you've been hit with some less than encouraging news this week, take a step back. Allow yourself time to regroup. Things are never quite as impossible (or ugly) as they first appear.
Choose to sing along with me the theme song from Lil' Orphan Annie, "The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow!"
Besides, we know the One who holds all our tomorrows in His loving hands. Set backs are really more like set ups for a better outcome.
THAT truth is definitely worth an announcement!