I withdrew the ancient and paling manila envelope from its secret hiding place. Eyelids shut except for a sliver of light on the metal clasp, I pinched it. The contents? My very first rejection letters from publishers. My mission? Whether I wanted to know or not, how long had it really been since I’d started receiving notices like these?
My fingers yanked at the stack of correspondence. Wouldn’t budge. The papers too thick to pull out split the sides of the aged envelope. Oh my! How many are here, anyway?
Tugging at the contents, I clutched them with my left hand and flipped through them with my right. My eyes bugged. Certain I was holding the first letter I’d received, the header didn’t lie.
Fuzzy, I gripped the computer table. What year is this? My gaze roved the desk calendar. Yep.
Twenty years. GONE.
In that time I’d graduated six children from homeschool and geographically moved three times. My oldest son had gone through five deployments overseas.
Wars had begun and ended!
I had cancer. Twice. Heck! Where’d five grandchildren come from? (Yes, I know how that happens.)
The list of life changes and world challenges could stretch from now to tomorrow. Point? Flashbacks fired in my head of highs and lows, pinnacles of success and dark, heart-breaking struggles.
And, how had the rejection letters changed over the years besides being stored in my email instead of envelopes? The early ones said, “Talented.” The latter ones? “I expect to see this novel on a shelf soon.” “Ann, is more than publishable.”
I’d had so much favor with people through the years. Prolific author, Dr. Gilbert Morris, was the first man on my team. Susan Horner and Kelly Fordyce Martindale published my stories in their book, Loved By Choice: True Stories that Celebrate Adoption to give me publishing credit. Lee Hough with Alive Communications went above and beyond to groom, teach, and help me. In twenty years, I was accepted by two literary agencies. My home with Hartline Literary came in 2007.
Have I tried hard enough? Have I prayed long enough? Have I pursued to become a better writer? Every time I’ve wanted to quit, I can’t. The passion will not die.
So again, I say to you, why?
In 2011 a Christian publisher contacted me and said they were going to publish my novel after sitting on it for two years. Seven months later? They didn’t. I attended the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference and met two acquisitions editors from two major players in Christian Publishing. After each working with me for months, one even sending my book out to readers and getting favorable responses, they did not publish me.
Two years ago, I began to pray differently. Now, numb to rejection, I asked God: “What is my purpose? You haven’t let me quit. You’ve told me over and over through Your Word to wait and persevere. I will do whatever You want me to do. What is it?”
My answer came when I did not expect it and more than a year later. Exhort others. I’ve known for years my spiritual gift is exhortation. I want more than anything to see people rise to their callings and be all they can be in Christ. Who better to speak to writers about rejection than someone who has been rejected (for twenty years!)?
Some of you may have books ready for publishing. Success stories are out there about newbie authors going to their first conferences and snap–a coveted publishing house signs them on the spot. Some of you have been published many times over, but an earthshaking, demoralizing review hurts and rattles your confidence.
Poor writer. Rejection is our process, successful or not. It’s our nemesis.
How do we deal?
The problem is not me. The problem is not my writing. The problem is not the fault of my hardworking agent. God orders my steps, and He doesn’t see a problem. He sees unlimited potential. Will I use that potential wherever I am? Even while I sit in the rejection process? You bet. “Here I am, Lord.”
As Christian writers it’s more about living our lives than achieving goals. Our lives are journeys, never-ending paths, led by God, to mold and make us into a people who will achieve His purposes. Those purposes have always been and will always be… people. We are here to lead from what we learn, walk alongside others, and influence. God can do this however He wants.
“But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.”
Psalm 115:3 (Amplified)
Psalm 115 is about trust. You’re a writer and a believer. Will you trust Him with your destiny and calling, the works of your hands, heart, and mind? Let’s pick up the pile of rejection and lay it on the altar. Your sorrow is not wasted. Make the most of each day of your journey.
“He will bless those who reverently and worshipfully fear the Lord, both small and great.”
Psalm 115:13 (Amplified)
*Part of a Series: The Believer’s Response to Rejection