Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What Happens When It IS You

Today is a serious day. I'm going to talk about things I've kept off this blog for about 15 months. I'm going to talk about being on submission—more specifically about what it's like to experience all those things writers dread happening.

Because, really, no writer wants to be that person. The one who has to go through hell just to get a book on the shelf. You hope with all your being that your journey won't be too horrible. And you should. Without that hope? I don't know how I'd be where I am, even if it's not entirely where I want to be.

But what happens when it is you? What happens when writers list off "horror stories" about their publishing journey and you realize you've basically been through all of them?

If you want to know, read on. If not, stop here and go eat a cupcake. Actually, everyone should eat a cupcake while reading this. It'll take the edge off.

Now, I told myself that I wouldn't talk about submissions on my blog when I was out. I didn't want editors to know how long I'd been out or if I was struggling. But after 15 months? Heck, I think I've earned a little bit of a right to talk about it. And what does it matter that anyone knows how long I've been out? Does it make me less of a writer? Do I suck because my book hasn't sold?

Might be cocky, but I'm gonna say no. I can't control the market (let me know if you can).

This is the silent torture of those who've been out on sub for a long time. You're not supposed to talk about it. You're not supposed to admit to people how much it hurts. You can't complain, because you have an agent and you should be grateful and so many authors would kill to be where you are.

So you end up feeling guilty on top of sad, because as those passes pile up it does hurt. It shouldn't, but it does. An editor rejection is not like an agent rejection. With agents, you can keep trying with a project. Revise, try again. With an editor? Most of the time you get one shot. And each time someone says no, it feels like your book gets closer and closer to never happening. Because, well, that's what happens to books that don't get bought.

At that point, it's over. You have to walk away from that story maybe forever. That is incredibly scary and heartbreaking.

Submission messes with your head in big ways. It's either "Yay! You have finally got that deal you always dreamed about!" Or "Sorry, not for me." Over and over, such a high and such a low.

It's no secret that getting an agent was a tough road for me. I queried for about two years. When an agent finally was interested, I revised for nine months before the offer of representation, all the time wondering if it might fall through. But it didn't, and I snagged an amazing agent I could work well with. All that work was hard, but ultimately worth it.

I figured, you know, since it was so hard to get an agent, that selling my book should be easier. I'd already been through hard stuff! A lot of hard stuff, actually. The Universe owed me an easy time, or at least easier.

Yeah...don't expect The Universe to be "fair."

Fifteen months, and I have not sold a book. I have watched some of my friends get agents and deals within this time. I hate to say it, but it hurt occasionally. And soon I will be seeing these books also come out before I sell. You start to wonder if you're any good. You start to wonder if you made the right choice writing something different. You wonder what more you could have done when you've already worked so hard.

But I've been a "good writer" all this time. I worked on a new project as advised. I got many crits, edited it for half a year. I sent it to my agent, thinking this would be my "back up," my "safety net" if worse came to worst with subs.

That safety net book became the book my agent politely recommended to be completely rewritten. Which, ouch. Seriously. We'll get back to this in a second.

The rewrite news came at the exact same time I'd finally made it to acquisitions at a big publisher—a dream publisher. Said publisher ended up asking for a revision, and I agreed because the editor really seemed to get my book. Finally, someone understood what I was trying to accomplish and they LOVED it! I could hardly believe it after so long (six months then). They asked for an exclusive, which seemed a pretty serious commitment to me (oh, naivety). It was exciting, and I had a lot of hope.

But I couldn't do the revision immediately because of the exclusive. There were other editors we had to wait on, and so for two months I waited to find out if any other editor wanted it or if I would do the revision with the dream publisher.

During that very stressful time, I worked on my rewrite of the "back up" book. It wasn't pretty. I was not in a good place. Stressed, anxious, scared, jaded, and yet secretly so hopeful it hurt. The rewrite absorbed all of that pain, to the point that just opening the document gives me a panic attack. Still.

We finally got the go for the revision after all the other editors passed. "Yay!" I thought. "Finally we can move to the next step!" Within a month, I got a wonderful editorial letter from the amazing editor at dream publisher. The revisions were brilliant, doable, and totally in line with my vision. I couldn't have been happier with how amazing that editor was! I worked my tail off, did everything I could, and the book was (and is) in incredible shape. I'm still proud of it.

The good news? The editor loved the changes! Enthusiasm abounded when I was informed that it would be taken, once again, to acquisitions. After all that work, and such excitement from the wonderful editor, I thought surely it would happen now. I did my job. I wasn't too proud for edits. I put in my time. When you put in your time, you get results.

But the editor was not allowed to buy my book. Six months of waiting and hoping and working...gone with one email. I can't lie, it was devastating. How could it not be? When you work that hard for something, losing it is like this hole. I hadn't even realized just how much I'd expected it to happen until it didn't. My mental state since then has been shaky, as is my confidence.

All I could see in my writing after that was a big fat FAIL. Fail fail fail. You're a freaking failure. You lost the only chance you had. You can't write a second book without having to scratch it all and rewrite. I didn't even have another book good enough to sub! There I was at the end of the summer with nothing to show for a whole year on submission. And then, well, you know that my agent had to leave the business. Luckily, I didn't have to query again (and I'm very happy with my new agent!), but it did kind of round out 2010: The Year of Suck.

The Complete Rewrite.

Editor Revision and Pass.

Losing Your Agent.

I think most writers can agree that they would not want to step within a mile of any of those events, and yet they seem to keep popping up for me. (At this point I can almost see the comedy in it all. Laugh or cry, right?)

So what do you do? What happens when all the things you fear as a writer happen?

Oh, I've wanted to quit. Sometimes I still think about it, how easy it would be to just disappear and pretend none of this ever happened. All I'd have to do is delete this blog, shut down my twitter account, and in a couple months no one would remember that one writer who used to blog and never sold a book. I could just stop writing, or at least stop trying to get published. When you're so stressed you start losing your hair? Yeah, it's time to consider alternatives.

It's also easy to think the whole industry is out to get you. It's very easy to let the utter unfairness and illogicality of publishing turn you into an ogre of hate. They say you should write a "different" book, but then all they really want is what's in vogue. They say your writing is great, and yet they pass. They buy some books for six figures, and yet can't spare a few thousand for yours. Bitterness can easily sink in—the internet and all its news of deals and bestsellers and cover announcements doesn't help.

Basically, you feel entitled to be angry and envious and jaded. I guess you are. But really all those emotions are a cover for what you actually feel—you feel like the biggest loser of a writer on the entire face of the planet. You've tried, and you've failed. Miserably, even. Maybe it is you that's the problem. You suck, that's why you can't sell a book.

It's a low place, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Writers have a reason for fearing it, for hoping that they won't have to face any or all of these things.

You're backed into a corner. At this point you honestly have two choices—fight or flight. If you wanted to run, I don't think anyone would blame you. I mean, you clearly tried and tried hard. You did your absolute best, and that's nothing to be ashamed of.

But because I'm way too stubborn for my own good, I'm still fighting. It hasn't been pretty, clawing my way out of this pit, but step by step I'm getting there.

I had to go back to the beginning and try to figure out why I liked writing in the first place. I had to isolate, so I couldn't see what I was "missing." I had to remember what it was like to write a story just because it was one I wanted to tell. I had to admit that my anxiety was out of control, and I needed help to get it back in check. I had to slowly rebuild faith in my ability to write.

Actually, I'm still doing all of those things.

When the bad stuff happens to you, it's time to make a choice. I won't be the one to tell you to keep going—the only one who can decide that is you. But you must choose a path. When you get here, to the really hard stuff, you can't stand at the fork in the road without losing it. Choosing a path makes it a little easier, because you're going somewhere again. Maybe it's not how or where you want to go, but it's something. And sometimes that something can turn into loveliness.

Also, whatever you choose, make a point to celebrate the little good things along the way. I've come to savor the small miracles. They might be the only ones I get! Even if the Big Stuff doesn't happen, there's a lot of beauty and satisfaction to be found in the work of writing.

More than anything, I think this Year of Suck has shown me just how much I can survive. I always think, "Surely, I can't endure anything else or I'll DIE. No, really die this time." Then something even worse happens and guess what? I'm still alive! Look at that. It was in no way fun, but I'm still here and I'm still writing.

It might take time to heal, but you don't have to let the bad stuff stop you. Somehow the hope survives, even if you look like a masochist. Hope's plucky like that.

Besides, the only way is up, right?

262 comments:

  1. {{{hugs}}} to you. I'm sorry you've had such a difficult journey. I admire your perseverance and your courageousness. Everything happens for a reason. We may not always understand it at the time, but in the end, it makes us better. Whatever the reason for your having to go through all this, it is somehow, in some way, the best path for you. Nonetheless, I'm sending good vibes and prayers to you for 2011 to be the Year of the Unsuck.

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  2. Oh, Natalie! If you were to delete your blog and disappear I'd miss you terribly.

    What a sucky year it's been for you. The Universe is very unfair and you deserve far better than you've got so far. All I can do is to wish you a much better year next year.

    *hugs*

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  3. Thank you for writing this. It's important for people to see this side of the road to publication. I think that 2011 will be the year of WIN for you!

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  4. I think I <3 you, Natalie. Even after one hell of a year (and journey) you are still here, fighting and working. And, even more important, still trying to help those of us out there just starting that journey.

    It scares the hell out of me that I'll fail, but if you can keep going after everything, so can I.

    Thanks for being such an inspiration. And I KNOW that things are only going to get better for you from now on!

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  5. This is such an amazing post. Seriously, thanks for sharing it. I cried and I smiled, and I feel like a stronger person for reading it.

    GO YOU for not giving up.

    And please don't close your blog -- give us warning at least. :D

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  6. Natalie, you are brave for sharing this story. Thank you for reminding those of us still in the query stage not to rest on our laurels.

    I'm a believer that everything happens for a reason--so I'm going to assume this is happening to you for a reason. I have to, or there's no explanation for why I'm still stuck where I am!

    Keep your head up. You can do this.

    - Liz

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  7. Oh, Natalie, I just want to reach through the computer and hug you. I don't post comments hardly ever here on your blog, but I read you regularly and this was a beautiful, incredible post today.

    Let me tell you this: I've been where you are. I had YEARS of "The Year of Suck." I had EIGHT of them - after publishing three books. And I had to change agents. And my books weren't reviewed, fell into black holes, orphaned three times. Then NOTHING for 8 years. Tears, angst, that mind and body-numbing fear that I must be a horrible writer - in spades. But every time I thought I should just quit, the writing imps were whispering stories in my ears and I kept writing new manuscripts, and kept revising the old ones. Until it finally happened and my new agent sold a three book deal for me to Scholastic.

    Seriously, I'm the least *naturally* talented writer out there, but I learned the craft through sheer guts of determination and hard, hard, hard work.

    That's what you're doing. There is a reason for everything in your life. That's what I also had to learn the hard way. God has a purpose and a plan for you and your writing. Trust in the process and love the writing most of all.

    You're not alone, sweetie, and you CAN do it. Otherwise God wouldn't have given you the desire and the determination and the love for writing. Hope this helps a teensy bit. xoxo

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  8. I had the great-enthusiasm-no-support-of-house rug pulled out from under me in 2006. It's not fun. I'm sorry you had to go through it. Hell, I'm sorry ANYONE has to go through it. It isn't entirely unlike that time the guy on The Bachelor opened a ring box....and then CLOSED IT AGAIN.

    The good news is, having to redefine why you write is a good way to strengthen its purpose. For about three years, I did stop writing, ditched my agent, and took up marketing. And it's funny, because that scared, sad, anxious, angry feeling you described is what I carried with me every day to work, because I knew what I wanted and that I was 100% FOR SURE not going to find it at the phone company.

    Chin up, darlin'.

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  9. This sounds disheartening--but through that revision you got a stronger novel. Remember your post about running on water? I think about that when I get depressed. Also, I disconnect from all publishing news, blogs, tweets, and so on when I start thinking of giving up. I know you're very connected so that might be difficult, but it erodes one's confidence to hear about other people getting contracts etc. So keeping writing and don't give up.

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  10. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story. I've been on sub for 6 months and have received lots of great feedback, but all passes. I'm in the same boat you were with "the letter" and the waiting for everyone else to pass before we bite.

    You are definitely not alone, as others have said. I think our stories are a lot more common than people think, but few are willing to admit how rocky the path was/is for them (until they hit it big).

    Hang in there and big, commiserating hugs.

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  11. MJR, I definitely have a stronger novel because of the rewrite. That doesn't mean it was easy or fun. Yes, I am glad I did it, but at the same time it was a painful process. I would like to avoid it forever more, even if at the same time I'd do it again if needed.

    Like I said, masochistic.

    I think it's very important to disconnect from the internet and news. I actually do it often. I don't read blogs like I used to because of that (and time constraints). It's so easy to compare, and that's a bad road to go down.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is don't feel bad about feeling bad, if that makes any sense. Of course you should remain as positive as possible, but sometimes, well, it's hard. That's okay.

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  12. I seriously need a cupcake. It hurts to read how you've been hit with so much suckiness, and it sure is okay to feel bad. But, once again, you've written a dynamic post (I read, don't comment) that touches people with its honesty. Thank you for telling it like it is but ending with hope, which is one of the best liferafts any of us can have.

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  13. Natalie, thank you for writing this. I can't imagine the rollercoaster you've been on, and the patience and determination you've needed, but I know that sharing this story will help many, many writers in similar situations. Writer know all-too-well that fear of failure, of sucking, of dreams just slipping away. The odds are stacked against us from the start, but we have to believe that we can beat them. Honestly -- I really think you can. Don't give up! (And again, THANK YOU for sharing this so eloquently.)

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  14. Thank you for writing this, Natalie. It's incredibly important for people to see the other side of publishing; the rejection and how it impacts you personally. I know it must have been - and still is - a struggle to keep going past all that, and I admire your bravery not only for posting this, but for still having the courage to continue despite everything it may have made you feel.

    A lot of unfortunate circumstance has happened to befall you, but with enough determination, you'll get there. All you have to do is keep going. You have so many watchers, followers and people behind you. Never forget that.

    You never know what tomorrow could bring, so you just have to keep hoping, keep writing, and trying to get that publishing deal. It won't be plain sailing, but your work will be rewarded. The Universe may not be fair - but it does work in strange ways. If those doors have closed, two more must have opened!

    Good luck, Natalie. We're rooting for you.

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  15. There's only one way - and it's up. I'm breathing a sigh of relief right now because I'm not alone. I'm no where near where you are in your experiences, but even at the sub stage where several agents have your novel and no one is responding back ... the edge of that black hole is noticeable. It's good to know I don't need to heed its tempting call.
    I'll take you up on that cupcake though :)

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  16. I don't have an agent yet but I have been writing a very long time and come close and watched others who have been at it an extraordinarily short time see success, which is frustrating and makes me doubt myself. But I just can't give up because the truth is, I don't have anything else. And you wouldn't have gotten as far as you have if you weren't 'good enough.' This may not mean much coming from a brand new follower but I hope it helps.

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  17. I sure wish your path could have been easier, and that you had your big, shiny deal by now, but if you had--you wouldn't be the inspiration that you are. You WILL get there. I wish it hadn't been so hard. I'm rooting for you!

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  18. Thank you so much for your honest, heartfelt post and for sharing your story. I think these words will touch a lot more writers than you even realize.

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  19. Natalie you are amazing - thank you for sharing this post. I agree that the silence of submission is brutal for writers. Regarding the Year of Suck - here's a favorite quote that's helped me out a lot:

    There are years that ask questions and years that answer. Zora Neale Hurston.

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  20. I know it might not mean much from someone you don't even know, but I'm crossing my fingers for the moment that your book gets published. Even though I don't know much about your stories, I think I will love them because I've heard your voice on this blog, and it's awesome! You inspire me, and a lot of other writers. Thank you!

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  21. *offers hugs and brownies*
    (I'll even go find some sort of liquor flavored additive so you can pretend to have a drink if you want.)

    Publishing makes no sense.

    There. I said it.

    Since finally gaining internet access, I've met so many talented people who've had stories of length trials and tribulations AND I've seen others who seemed to waltz through, pick up a contract with the week's groceries and go on abut their business. (And at least two of those books, IMO, never should have seen print as they were "realistic" fiction that patronized the people they purported to support.)

    I'm not sure what to say about other than this -- you get major props for realizing that not yet published =/= untalented.

    Think of your favorite authors who've written in the last century, now think how many of those could still get published today. Odds are, not many.

    Talent is only a very small piece of it.

    (Which is why all my future submissions may just be handwritten in faerie blood with a goblin-hewn pen. Surely that'll get an editor's attention!) <--- hopefully that rates a small giggle. My humor's weird, so I don't know.

    :-P

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  22. What an honest, inspiring post, Natalie! (tweeting it as we speak).

    Every line of this resonated with me. I signed an agent January 2006, and she was terrible and I had to fire her and i freaked out and then I signed another in September 2006, and I really thought, "Everyone says the agent is the hard part!" And visions of an overnight sale danced in my head. The sale was just around the corner, I was sure of it.

    My first project bombed out in a year. My second project, PRADA & PREJUDICE, racked up rejections. Then revision requests. Then those editors rejectied the revised version. Then more rejections.

    And before I knew it I'd been agented for two years and I had nothing to show for it. Except for the 7th draft of Prada & Prejudice. And then I got...

    Another revision request. And it was essentially a rewrite. And I banged my head again, but I still did it, becuase like you, how can you not? it's an opportunity you can't pass up.

    That editor quickly rejected it. So we sent it out. Again.

    And got two offers. The final tally was:
    2 agents
    2+ years on submission
    12 rejections on Project A
    26 on PRADA & PREJUDICE
    2 offers from amazing publishers.

    Prada & Prejudice is now in its 6th printing. And I have sold a total of 7 books.

    I say all this not to talk about myself but to say one thing:
    All the time you are spending now is *not* a waste of time. SO MANY authors I know get easy first sales and then flounder. Those two years I spent on submission were two extra years i spent honing my craft and learning what makes a good book. Those two years of rejection pointed to flaws in my writing that I needed to work on. And so when P&P did FINALLY SELL, I was far, far more equipped to quickly follow it up with YOU WISH. And BUT I LOVE HIM. And now, RIPPLE.

    Don't get me wrong. I loathed, loathed, loathed being on submission and being rejected. (And its sort of painful as an agent to pass them along to my writers and know how hard it can sting.) In the end, though, if P&P had sold immediately I don't know that it would have been reviewed well as the final version (11 drafts later) is far better than the one that originally went on submission. I don tkonw tha tI could have written YOU WISH as well as I had if i hadn't learned all of my shortcomings through all those rejections.

    So while it may seem like a shitty silver lining when you're still on the wrong side of the publishing divide, I hope that somehow helps.

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  23. Hear hear, dear friend. There's not much more I can add to that, except I completely understand EVERYTHING. (and you, of all peeps, know exactly why.) Thanks for writing this. Hear frigging hear.

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  24. What an important story... One that I find all too familiar. I sold in 2007, the book came out in 2008, editor left and new one didn't like my work, agent and I parted ways, New agent got sick, etc... Now I'm working with a fabulous new agent and have hope for the new book. And hope is both the savior and the curse of this business. it keeps you going, but can be devastating when it's dashed.
    Hugs,
    Teri

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  25. Awesome post, Natalie. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I don't mean this in a bad way, but it *is* truly nice to know other writers are in the same boat. Talk about frustrating (and a whole lot of other things as well). But knowing what you've been through, and that you haven't given up, well, it gives a lot of us hope. And it also reminds us that good things *will* happen, if we keep trying -- even though that "dream" timeline of querying an agent-to-everything else doesn't necessarily happen the way we'd hoped.

    I believe in you, as so many other people who read your blog do too. And I know I speak for all of us when I say don't give up. You can do this. We're here for you, to listen and cheer you on as you keep trying. Gooooo Natalie!!!! *shakes pom poms* =)

    Jessica

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  26. I can't wait for that beautiful day when everything comes together for you! Life is strange, friend, and endlessly difficult and wonderful, ambivalent, bittersweet. While good times blur past and you never feel like you savored them quite enough when they're gone, you'll feel the opposite about your Year of Suck. You'll feel proud. I think you're recognizing that already. You survived, you can survive, you will survive. Authors who had an easy time of it cannot say that! :) Good luck! You are an inspiring writer already, and I haven't even read your books yet.

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  27. I can't wait for that beautiful day when everything comes together for you! Life is strange, friend, and endlessly difficult and wonderful, ambivalent, bittersweet. While good times blur past and you never feel like you savored them quite enough when they're gone, you'll feel the opposite about your Year of Suck. You'll feel proud. I think you're recognizing that already. You survived, you can survive, you will survive. Authors who had an easy time of it cannot say that! :) Good luck! You are an inspiring writer already, and I haven't even read your books yet.

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  28. Found you through a retweet, and so glad I did.

    Thank you for sharing. I'm just starting on the publishing wagon and I'm a firm believer that there's a difference between HOPE and EXPECTATION.

    This made me examine my hopes and evaluate them. I found a few expectations masquerading as hopes, and I need to spend some time rebuilding that portion of my understanding of the publishing process.

    Thank you. You gave me a lot to think about.

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  29. The only way to fail as a writer is to stop writing. Don't let the vagaries of the market and other people's opinions stop you from doing something you know in your heart you are meant to do, something you know you love. Just keep writing.

    I know it's hard to deal with the negative nature of all the crap you've been through (I have plenty of deep scars from experiences so old it's embarrassing -- I should be over them by now), but your job as an artist is to keep writing, keep putting your stuff out there. Don't give up, Natalie. I know it hurts, but continuing to write new material is the best balm there is. What the rest of the world does or doesn't do with your work has nothing to do with its true value or your talent as a writer. Getting public recognition as an artist is a crap shoot. Feeling successful as an artist, however, is in your own hands. As long as you are writing, you are a writer.

    Keep up the awesome work. Your blog is inspiring and evidence that you are already a successful writer.

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  30. Natalie,
    Not going to lie, that does not sound like any fun at all. But I really admire you for persevering. And I just want you to know that I'm for you, and I'll keep cheering you on! Just think...the odds should be getting more and more in your favor, right? :)
    melody

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  31. Thank you for your courage in posting this. You are a great writer. That comes through in your blog. And whether you realize it or not, your words are already affecting people, moving people, healing them. I totally get why that doesn't always feel like enough, but it is something, and it's definitely not failure.

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  32. natalie
    ( am i the only male writer/reader out there who saw this? )
    you were mentioned on Twitter this morning ... i'm sure you know that my now.
    sarahlapolla Sarah LaPolla
    This! RT @MandyHubbard If you read one blog post today... @nataliewhipple's amazingly honest post on rejection http://tinyurl.com/35erexk

    how many times have i said to myself: ... if Pat Conroy had sent in my novel it would have sold millions, the critics would have said, "Conroy's best effort since Prince of Tides" ... if i had sent in South of Broad i would have gotten back form letters saying, " ... it's not right for us, but good luck with your writing career."
    we, you and i and all the other 'being discovered' writers sending in stuff week after week can't take it personal.
    my stuff is good ... i would bet that your stuff is good. take pride in that.

    tom honea
    tomhonea.wordpress.com

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  33. I think it's the 'secretly so hopeful it hurts' that can be the worst. Not to mention the months of hope that all end with one email. But you're right, hope is plucky! Thank you so much for writing this!! You'll get there I'm sure.

    From another one of THOSE writers.

    PS and thank you Mandy for your comments! It's important to remember we're at least becoming better writers through all this agony

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  34. Natalie, Thank you SO much for sharing this post. It resonates with me a ton, and I'm sure it does for others. This journey is hard on every single level. Highs and lows abound (although it seems mostly lows for such a long time!)

    Wishing you the best :)

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  35. you are awesome, natalie whipple!
    thank you for writing such a difficult and heartfelt post. and i've shared feelings about your author future on twitter. =) only wish the road wasn't so filled with obstacles for you, but it'll make success that much the sweeter.

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  36. Thank you for this. I'm on the front end of this journey, and it's terrifying enough, but I am so thankful to know that it's possible to survive and keep going with so many setbacks. I hope to have half of your strength through this process. :)

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  37. Oh Natalie. The year of suck is RIGHT! You know how they always say we should put our character in a tree and throw rocks at her? I kept thinking, as I read your post, stop throwing rocks at the poor girl!!

    This business is so freaking hard. Even for those of us published, things happen, and it is HARD. I had to do exactly this at the first of the year:

    "I had to remember what it was like to write a story just because it was one I wanted to tell. I had to admit that my anxiety was out of control, and I needed help to get it back in check. I had to slowly rebuild faith in my ability to write."

    After some painful rejections, I was in a dark place. So,I started writing a book and told NO one what it was. My agent asked, "Do you want me to read any pages?" I said, no thank you. :) I had to go back to the basics. Just me and a story. And I tried to block out everything else. It was hard, but the best way to do it is to become immersed in a story. And finally, FINALLY, I found joy in THAT.

    The book sold. My career wasn't over after all.

    Hoping 2011 is YOUR year!! Thank you for your honest post. You will help a lot of people with it, I know you will!!

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  38. It WILL work out. But in the meantime, there's always Sees Chocolates and good friends. :)

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  39. This is an AWESOME post!!!!!

    Thanks for sharing your torture...um, I mean story. *hugs*

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  40. First off, I ended up reading this post (and all the comments) with "Keeping Holding On" from the Glee soundtrack in the background. Total accident-- totally, hilariously, corny. You should try it sometime.

    This is all happening to you because it's fate's way of making sure you're not some crazy-famous, kids-in-private-school, celebrity bookmaven before I get to meet up with you at Cafe Rio and gossip about the TwitLit community and Natalie Whipple's cuteness.

    Seriously.

    (Honestly, you da bomb and I'll be picking up a shiny new hardcover of yours on a featured book table at Barnes & Noble in the near future-- I just know it!) <3 <3 <3

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  41. Well now I really want to read the book(s). If you sold' em yourself, I'd buy em.

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  42. I wish I had been here this morning to respond to all these wonderful, encouraging comments!

    I am so overwhelmed by your responses. Really, it means so much to me. Thank you times infinity.

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  43. Natalie, I love this post! It's so inspiring to writers. You've shown a lot of courage just writing this and I know your patience will pay off in the end. Sending lots of hugs from the agency who will make it happen, hopefully soon :)

    Sarah

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  44. You are a world of awesome. You will get published. You will.

    And you know what? You're not nearly alone as you might think, maybe not up to the losing the agent part, but I know a lot of writers -- myself included -- that have gotten really, really close, only to have it fall through. You're in good company.

    And you're an awesome writer!

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  45. Thanks for posting this. At my house, we've had a year (actually almost 2) of suck. It's hard to be in the middle a depressing situation. No one wants to keep rehashing the same problem over and over. And the "keep your chin up" stuff grows tiresome. It makes you feel so alone. On top of the stress and other emotional stuff. It's so hard to keep choosing the positive.
    But choosing the positive is always worth it. And the small miracles become such big things and help you re-focus. Thanks for the encouragement!
    I appreciate your honesty.

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  46. This was such a heart-wrenching post. :( I'm so sorry your journey has been so brutally tough. Kudos to you for continuing to push through. All of that would've definitely killed most writers. Thanks for sharing such an honest look at the process. And here's hoping 2011 is the year of awesome. :)

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  47. Beautifully said--and thank you for sharing. I truly hate the cone of silence we all live in, not wanting to admit our struggles for fear we'll look less talented. It's NOT because we're less talented. This business is just insanely subjective/complicated/hard. Huge applause to you for being honest. And huge hugs for the year of suck.

    If it's any comfort, I have always been able to tell from your posts that you are an amazing writer. Glad to hear you're not giving up. I want to read your book someday.

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  48. Thank you for this bold and amazong post. It's so hard to explain the pain that hope can bring to people not riding this industry.

    Wishing you more highs than lows!

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  49. This is a very hard business. The problem is, it's not easy to see that until you're deep in the suck.

    Major kudos to you for wading through the mire, but even more for stopping and taking stock of why you love to write and returning to those roots.

    Big hugs!

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  50. Such an incredible post, Natalie. I admire your strength so much. I am wishing great success to come your way -- and very soon.

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  51. I'm sorry you had such a terrible year. :( Even if you never get published by a traditional publisher, know that many people would still love to read your book, no matter what format.

    Hopefully the coming year will bring you more cheer. And don't think about deleting your blog, from the looks of it many people would be very angry.

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  52. Someone on Twitter said that if you only read one post today, this should be the one. So true.

    Honest, heartfelt, and achingly real. This will help me through many a dark time. Thank you.

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  53. Ah, Natalie.

    My story is so very similar to yours, so far--except it's been TWO years of suck. One book that failed on submission, though it got very close. One book agent rejected outright. Another book agent wanted a complete rewrite for (the one I'm working on now).

    It is SO HARD to pull yourself up out of that complete lack of confidence. I still have my moments. I still am tempted to just STOP beating my head against the wall sometimes.

    But...what if THIS book is the one?

    I can't find it in myself to stop.

    ((HUGS)) from the same place.

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  54. Your story is almost a mirror image of mine, except my second agent dropped me. I'm left with a project that was not submitted to all the houses it could have been.

    I believe in my project. So I submitted it to houses that take unsolicited manuscripts. In the meanwhile, I'm setting up a business plan to publish it myself. I have a degree in illustration, have designed covers, and have worked in the printing industry. Going the self-pub route is daunting, but exhilarating. My creative energy is pouring back in and that horrible, helpless feeling is fading.

    My need for NY pub industry approval will be the sacrifice I make. I'm moving ahead with other projects and will continue to pursue traditional routes with them, but this one very special story is not going to go in the drawer. Hells no.

    I wish you the very best of book publishing luck from here on out!

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  55. Amazing, gut-wrenching, must-read post. I started writing in eighth grade. Got agent and book deal at age 42. So, it was basically a 30-year adventure (hope I haven't totally depressed you). No idea where things will go from here. Wouldn't trade the journey (even my own many Years of the Suck) for anything. Keep Writing! - Stasia

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  56. Self-pub. Then your audience is 6.5 billion people instead of two dozen editors. Good luck.

    Scott

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  57. You are so, so brave and so, so strong. My hero, basically!

    I hope 2011 is the Year of Win for you!

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  58. Wishing you a wondrous 2011. And thank you for sharing - I'm rooting for you.

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  59. what a brilliant, beautiful post.

    your story resonates with so many more hearts than you might expect.

    thank you for being so brave.

    <333

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  60. Excellent post. The Year of Suck is almost over! 2011 will be your Year of Success.
    Thanks for posting this too. It's always nice to know that we aren't alone in our fears and insecurities.

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  61. Don't let the screwiness of the business take away your passion for writing. Isn't that what it's really about? The journey & the joy of putting passion into words?

    Thank you for your post. Your honesty is what we all need to not feel alone.
    Good luck & keep going!!

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  62. ::hugs:: I relate to the feelings from having a novel die in the query stage. Or from putting a novel to sleep in the query stage I might should say. The forced silence about the pain and torture of the publishing process is something that bothers me. Because you are not alone and you shouldn't have to feel that you are. Thanks for posting this even though writers are "supposed" to take it all quietly. Here's hoping 2011 is your year of anti-suck!

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  63. Awww :( *sniff* so giving you BIG hugs right now - you are awesome and they SUCK cause they don't recognise it fully. Dorks!

    BirthRight The Arrival, on Amazon 1.1.11
    www.damselinadirtydress.com

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  64. I hope I never go through something quite like this, but I also hope that if I do, I show all the character and courage you are.

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  65. You, my sweet, are made of awesome! Never forget that. xoxo

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  66. Many times I've wanted to jump on my blog and share how hard it can be behind the scenes. I admire you for this. With the exception of losing an agent, we're going through the same thing. I've done this, too.

    I signed with my agent in March of 2008 and we've had two books on submission. With the second book, she was so enthusiastic, I just knew it would go faster. It hasn't. But so much goes on behind the scenes. We want to share, but don't want to look difficult. But the truth is, this is hard. 32 months.

    And this isn't my first round.All we can do is keep writing and keep hoping. :)

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  67. I love you, Natalie. And I am SO FREAKING GLAD you are finally able to talk about this publicly. Wishing you an amazing dream-come-true 2011!!!

    (Mandy Hubbard's comment? Wonderful.)

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  68. Wonderful post Natalie! For the record, it took me 15 years to get published. The manuscript that sold was my 10th. I am out on submission right now and did not know that I was not supposed to whine about it. Whoops.

    People like you sell. Keep going.

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  69. Your rewrite story/no buy sounds like others I've heard about a publisher whose name rhymes with Door. I know at least two others who had the exact same experience, one waiting an entire year and doing all the revisions to spec before getting the "acquisition department's" no.

    At least one of these people I know went on to publish with my publisher (a black and white antarctic water fowl). So hold on to hope!

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  70. Natalie,

    I'm so glad you published your story. I just told my husband last week that I thought I was through with writing--it's too hard, and it just hurts too much.

    Your story is almost exactly like my own, except I've had two incredible agents at huge agencies over the last 4 years who loved my work. The first agent quit for a year when her husband got cancer. The second agent recently decided she no longer wanted to rep anything but YA and middle grade. The loss of two people who actually "loved" what I wrote was devastating. And I still have no idea if I'll find a third.

    Between the two agents, I've had five books go out on submission. Two of them made it as far as acquisitions (one was a dream publisher, the other I was just happy it made it that far). A third book made it close, but every rejection I got was the same: "I have no idea how to market this."

    So what happens when it seems you've exhausted every avenue you have? I still don't know. I haven't been able to work on anything new since my agent parted ways two months ago.My brain and my heart are defeated. But I thank you for your post to let me know that there are others out there who've had the same kind of 2010 that I've had. And that maybe there's still hope, because though my mind might be telling me that I should quit writing and find something I can be successful at, I don't possess the capability to stop writing. It's something I have to do. And maybe one day it'll all pay off and I'll see my words on paper, in a book, on a shelf.

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  71. Thank you for sharing all of this. I think a lot of new writers are going/will be going through a lot of this as well and will need to be reminded that it's hard for everyone. I'm going to star querying in 2011 and I know there's a lot of hard stuff ahead. Thanks for being awesome and sticking with it, even when things have been so bad. I will be hoping and praying for you that things will be better with the new year!

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  72. Natalie, I probably can't add anything new to this massive outpouring of support and thanks and hugs, but mine are in there anyway. I hope you know that I have absolute faith in you. (And obviously I'm not the only one.) You ARE going to make it, and you're going to be great.

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  73. Natalie, This is a brave and powerful post, and you have helped so many people today by speaking out. I'm so sorry for what you've been through. I've been struggling to get to the "query agent" part and still am not there. After feeling really down about it, I've decided that it simply takes what it takes. I also once thought about stopping writing, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. But I just couldn't do it. I dream of being published some day, but I've heard from lots of people at all stages of the business that we cannot look only to publishing for validation. I hope you can re-discover the true joy of writing for yourself and that your Year of Suck is followed by many, many happy ones. You are not alone, and we're all pulling for you! (By the way, I've often enjoyed your blog and can tell that you ARE a good writer!)

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  74. omg. Thank you so much for writing this. You are not alone in writer suckage, just know that. It really f**ks with your mind and I wish the pub part didn't mean as much as it does but there is no denying it. And I'm glad that you're going back to the basics, I find a lot of strength in that. Thanks, again, for sharing.

    All the best.

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  75. Thanks for the brutal honesty. I've drawn a lot of strength from your post. Two weeks ago, I found out my publisher had decided to close my imprint, leaving my book up in the air and my lovely, lovely editor and the rest of Tricycle Press) without jobs.

    Publishing isn't for the faint of heart, is it? In the midst of your waiting, remember I'm over here waiting too. :)

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  76. Thanks for sharing this! I hope 2011 is everything wonderful for you. :)

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  77. Oh, Natalie, this is such an amazing post! THANK YOU for sharing your journey.

    I think you bring up such a great point...when you go on submission, you're not supposed to talk about submission. It's like Fight Club.

    So what happens is all the bloggers talk about is just the *good* stuff. WHich is great--we all love good news. But since the *bad* stuff isn't shared we assume we're the only one experiencing the bad stuff. And it makes persevering all that much harder!

    Like when I was prego, it seemed like everyone else who was ever pregnant LOVED it and it went smoothly and it was a wonderful experience. And I was like "Really? Cuz this sucks!"

    I've gone through two agents, and I wrote six books before getting a contract. At one point a few years ago, I was asked to do revisions for an editor--we went through two rounds together (it took about TEN MONTHS!) the editor was excited, took it to the publisher and they decided they wanted to focus on teen fiction, not middle grade. I almost died. Cried for DAYS.

    But like you said, we can't control the market.

    The process is so different for everyone. And honestly, it sucks. But your amazing attitude will get you far. Very far. And I can't wait to hear about the sale of your first book. :-)

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  78. You will get there. You seriously know what you're talking about :)(I'm still brainstorming changes). All of the waiting and stress and anxiety that you're living/working through will make you not only a tougher writer, but a tougher person.

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  79. OH my goodness: so many ups and downs. Thank you so much for sharing. With your determination, I know you'll make it!! And you're inspiring me to keep going too!

    Nina
    http://ninabadzin.com

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  80. You've voiced what SO many of us feel regularly. It IS hard. It does hurt. At times, it sucks. And yes, it's hard to watch friends (friends you love dearly) have massive success without clawing their way up the cliff.

    Thanks for this1

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  81. I applaud you for talking about this so bravely. I'm nowhere near the query stage, but I appreciate the insight regardless. I hope that 2011 will bring good fortune for you!

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  82. Sometimes when I'm trudging through suck with friends I forget how sucky it is to trudge.

    Glad you're still writing!

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  83. Ugh, Natalie! No fun at all. Let's hope 2011 sees you faring much better. I'm glad I never got that close before seeing rejection. I can certainly sympathize with the time though. It took nearly two years for Deadworld to sell, with a nice rewrite of the whole book in the middle of it.

    What can you do? Publishing is insanely fickle. If you have hopes of publishing, you just have to keep at it. What other advice can you give? Writing is the one aspect under your control. If you don't, then your chances of publishing are zero. Crossing my fingers for you.

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  84. This is such a brave, honest post. Thank you for sharing this part of your story. My first book was shelved after some really positive editorial feedback but no offers. I'm working on revising my second now for my agent. It's sort of terrifying.

    Hope wonderful things happen for you in 2011.

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  85. It was nice of you to share your journey. Most writers think that once you get an agent, the hard part is over. But it isn't. Sometimes (first) books never get picked up.

    I always wondered what happens to an author's MS that never gets published...

    Me? Well, I figured if that ever happened to me, I'd just add it as a free download from my blog to entice new readers to buy my other books. oops! That was one of my secret promoting tips. :-)

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  86. Natalie, this is a post that is lovely in its honesty.

    May this next year bring good tidings. I'll be crossing my fingers.

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  87. I just had to comment because you should know you're not the only one out there in limbo land. I've been on sub since February (yes not quite as long as you), but I get what you are saying, and I applaud you for sticking to it! Some hugely successful books out there have stories like yours behind them. My wish for you is that this time next year, you'll be celebrating your upcoming debut and looking back on this as just a memory. And thank you for putting up this blogpost.

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  88. Natalie, this sounds like the perfect situation to self publish. You know that it's not the quality of your manuscript. If that editor had gotten permission to buy your book, you would've gotten that book deal. Have you ever considered it?

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  89. Like so many people have said, I do hope 2011 is a year of WIN for you.

    But even if it's not, I hope that YOU will continue to win and to fight and to hang in there!

    And since this seems to be the time and place for catharsis (we hope, right?), I'll tell you my little story. It doesn't have a happy ending yet.

    I worked for a year on a book I LOVED. I wrote it fairly quickly (not compared to you, of course), and spent 8 months revising, after the requisite time off. I thought I'd made it as good as I could.

    After meeting an editor in the hall at a conference, I submitted the manuscript to him. It was rejected quickly (2 mo). I asked for and received the feedback from the company's evaluators, and while wildly divergent on many points, they all agreed on a key flaw. And dash it all, they were right.

    So I spent five months on three rounds of revisions, specifically addressing that problem. I polished and shined and entered the first chapter in a contest.

    To my great surprise, I won my category (and came close to winning the grand prize [I'm friends with the contest coordinator]). I won a get-out-of-the-slush-pile-free card to the same publisher (and another in the niche). I was elated at the very public announcement during a writing conference.

    For about 20 minutes. Then the editor at this publisher approached me (not the same editor as before) to tell me she'd dug up my [deeply flawed!!] manuscript from months before—and she didn't want to see that manuscript again. Her heart was in the right place, but her foot was delivering a roundhouse kick to the teeth.

    I tried to tell her I'd been working on addressing the exact issues—the feedback was so right—but was afraid to overstate the case. She said she loved my writing, but wouldn't want me to waste my prize on that MS. Did I have anything else?

    No.

    It was a good thing the next class wasn't super important to me, because I spent the whole time trying not to cry (and texting my husband). It was such a kick in the teeth, that I'd wasted so much time, that this book would never have a chance with this publisher.

    (Okay, there's a slightly happier ending: I tracked down the editor again at the end of the day and asked if she absolutely didn't want to see the revised version. She [very hesitantly] agreed to see it.)

    This is the first time I've publicly shared this whole story (not out of pride, but trying to be professional—I didn't want to say anything bad about the editor, even without a name). I'm still [7 more months of working on it later] not sure whether to submit it!)

    Good luck in the future, Natalie! I keep telling myself that the biggest difference between a published author and an unpublished one is perseverance.

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  90. Wow, SO many comments!

    I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this and for your honesty. It can't have been easy to write (or go through) but I think that being honest about our "failures" as well as our success is such a very powerful thing.

    And I hope that things are on the upswing for you! Such a talented and dedicated writer deserves a break!

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  91. Natalie, thank you for sharing about your experience. It's probably no comfort, but so many of us who have been "called" to write, can empathize with you (me included). I finally went the self-publishing route with an amazing POD publisher and I have two books now that are actually doing quite well. That said, it's a lot of work on my part promoting them. Keep on keeping on, Natalie and don't give up. Tenacity will pay off.
    Lynn
    www.shootthewounded.org

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  92. Natalie,

    All I can say is, WOW! What a difficult road to walk towards publication. This writing business is a tough gig.

    I appreciate your honesty and laying your heart right out there for all of us to see. It's a lesson for everyone.

    Keep charging ahead. If we don't continue to pursue our dreams even when we get knocked down, kicked and spat on, who else will do it?

    Hoping 2011 holds much joy for you.

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  93. Thank you so much for this post, Natalie. As a writer who's been struggling today with the "am I crazies," it was inspiring and motivating. That might seem like a strange way to describe this post, but it is, and here's why:

    It's easy to see from where I'm sitting that you're going to be published one day, that all this work is going to pay off. You're obviously a fantastic writer - your blog alone is proof of that.

    This part of the process isn't often spelled out in detail by writers, so again, thanks.

    And best of luck for a much better 2011. Luck's obviously what you've been lacking, because - again - you clearly have talent.

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  94. I just want to thank you so much for this post. It says a lot of what I've been feeling about the biz lately. I had an editor in love iwth my book, talked to her on the phone, only to have it die in acquisitions.

    This statement really spoke to me.

    They say you should write a "different" book, but then all they really want is what's in vogue. They say your writing is great, and yet they pass. They buy some books for six figures, and yet can't spare a few thousand for yours. Bitterness can easily sink in—the internet and all its news of deals and bestsellers and cover announcements doesn't help.

    Basically, you feel entitled to be angry and envious and jaded. I guess you are. But really all those emotions are a cover for what you actually feel—you feel like the biggest loser of a writer on the entire face of the planet. You've tried, and you've failed. Miserably, even. Maybe it is you that's the problem. You suck, that's why you can't sell a book.


    I will hope and pray for great things in the future aka 2011 ASAP for you. Let's hang in there together!!!

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  95. Natalie,
    I share your struggle and identify with your feelings. All of them. Unfortunate truth? It doesn't get easier. I've been writing novels full-time since 1993. Twenty-five published novels to my credit. Economy collapsed. Market shifted. And for the last two years I've written eight proposals that have been submitted to publishers by my agent. All rejected. Working on number nine. Over the last two years I have had every thought and every emotion you expressed so well in your blog. (But he has 25 novels! He can live off the royalties. . . That's the topic for another blog in the reality of publishing.) Just wanted you to know that you're not alone. Oh yeah, and this: Perseverance counts. Hang in there.

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  96. What many of the readers of this post don't realize is how even in the midst of her own Year of Suck, Natalie has always been there for her friends, and helped us through our own struggles.

    You rock, Natalie. Truly. Others have said it, and I've said it all along: You WILL succeed.

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  97. Thank you for sharing this!

    And please don't give up.

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  98. Here's to up!

    And thanks for the honesty!
    ~ Wendy

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  99. I love the honesty of this post. You have my sympathy. I've been through a lot of that same stuff myself. Every writer needs to read this.

    I can actually add two extra sucks to this list if misery does love company...

    1. While submitting a rewrite of a book to a dream publisher I was also coaching a friend through the book writing process. And then he landed a book deal with that same publisher. Oh, and I didn't know his topic was pretty similar to my own...

    2. I had sold a book to a publisher who then changed their focus. After I submitted the finished book I could either change my convictions and rewrite the book or walk with half of the advance and Word file on my computer.

    So yeah, even if you get a contract, there is plenty that can still go wrong. :) The fact that you were able to write this post tells me that you'll persevere.

    And by the way, there's no option for me in the comment form since I use a hosted blog with Wordpress.org. My web site is edcyz.com.

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  100. It's clear that you have the three most essential traits of successful writers:

    Talent, heart, and perseverance.

    I have no doubt your journey will one day end up at the Happily Ever After.

    xo

    Lisa

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  101. My God, this was so painful to read. I'm so sorry this is the journey that you've had to travel and I'm grateful that you were willing to share it with all of us. I'm just about to query my first novel and this post really scared the shit out of me. But in some ways I think it's a huge reality check and so I thank you.

    I really hope this coming year will take your journey in a happier more positive direction. One day you'll look back at this blog post and remember the time when...as long as you don't give up and it sounds like you haven't. Writing is your obviously your passion in life and to give up on a passion is to give up on the happiest part of life.

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  102. Natalie,

    Reading through your experience and then through the comments has been so cathartic for me. There are agents, published authors and newbies represented here, all dealing with the slings and arrows of the suck-fest of publishing.

    I have wanted to post my experiences to date on my writing blog and haven't been brave like you. I finished my first novel 12 months ago.

    Right before that, I went to a Diana Gabaldon signing where she told the audience that she sent a query for a "rather long historical novel" to an agent for her unfinished manuscript. He immediately asked for it and sold it to a publisher in a 3-book deal within 3 days. THAT was the expectation I had when I started querying (my novel was 188,000 words when I typed 'The End').

    So you could say I've had a Year of Suck as well. Learned a lot. Cried a lot. Quit several times. Started and stopped. Hated and hoped. Revised and rewrote.

    I don't know what 2011 will bring for you or for me, but it means so much to have a community like this to commiserate, to support one another, to fling a lifeline when needed.

    Hugs to you!

    Cyndi

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  103. * Thanks so much for this incredible honest post, Natalie. Your experiences have said it all for every single writer with high hopes. Yup, the road to getting published certainly isn't for the faint of heart. You've proven that. Bravo!

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  104. You know what I was thinking as I was reading this? "What an amazing, strong woman." AND I'm a big believer in the what doesn't kill you makes you stronger theory.

    You're an inspiration, Natalie. Truly.

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  105. What a sad, and stressful, year. Wishing you every good thing in 2011. *keeping all-things-crossable crossed ;)

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  106. You rock!

    You make me do a reality check on where I've been, and what's in store.

    Thanks for the great, honest, heart-pouring post!

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  107. Natalie, this post is such an important one. I'm so glad you decided to write it.

    I can't imagine how hard it's been, going through what you've gone through. I started crying as I read your post because I knew exactly what you meant. I'm not to the point of having an agent yet, so the highs and lows are not as extreme as yours, but the frustration, anxiety, and lack of confidence are the same, as well as the struggle to fight off bitterness.

    You are an incredibly brave and honest person. The fact that you're still fighting, even though you've faced so much adversity in your writerly life, gives me (and I'm sure many others) encouragement, hope, and inspiration.

    Thank you and good luck, and don't you dare leave. <3

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  108. 2010 is almost over, and then 2011 will be the year of epic win!

    I had a terrible 2009 but in 2010 everything turned around. I am sure this will happen to you. And your books will be even stronger because of everything you have gone through!

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  109. Oh, Natalie -- thank you for sharing such an honest post!! It's so true that we try to ignore or hide our failures and focus on the positive, even when it's eating away at us, bit by devastating bit.

    You're not a failure, you don't suck and I DO believe that if you can hang in there, you'll find that elusive dream. Because really, perseverance might be the biggest key to true success. And when that success comes, it will be that much sweeter because of what you've had to experience to get there.

    I'm sending tons of hugs, best wishes and good karma your way. Here's to a fabulous 2011!!

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  110. *hugs!!*

    Publishing is a crazy, demented business, and it can make you crazy as well. There is no question about that.

    I'm sorry for the Year of Suck, but it was the Year, not YOU, that sucked. I know all the feelings that come along with the hard stuff, but you've proven you can live through it!

    Hang in there, sweets! You know we're all cheering for you. :)

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  111. Thanks for sharing, Natalie. I hope your tenacity will pay off for you in the long run. Then this will just make the reward all the sweeter.

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  112. me and you--

    we don't just have warcraft in common...

    ... damn the silent chery way we have to be--I have SO much to say right now. WE're like twinkies...

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  113. In 2007 I queried a manuscript to agents for 9 months and then gave up on it. I wrote another manuscript, queried, and was offered representation by an agent. That manuscript, a manuscript I loved, a manuscript my critique partners loved, that I was so sure of, died after being submitted to a small handful of editors. My agent lost interest and stopped communicating. I left my agent and wrote another manuscript. I'm querying now.

    What I've realized along the way is that the quest for publication can overshadow everything else and suck the joy out of writing. I've learned how important it is to keep in mind why I'm writing. I'm not writing solely to see the book in print; I'm writing because I'm passionate about it and to do anything else would be a disservice to myself.

    If there's no joy, what's the point? Keep writing because you live to write, not solely because you want to be a published author someday. I hope that's where you are.

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  114. Howdy, Natalie.

    Boy. Yeah. You know, I had a happy publishing outcome, and this year has STILL been in many ways, a Year of Suck. More like a Year of Manic Depressive Craziness.

    FWIW, my book was out on submission for just over a year. It was tough. What I've learned since being published is that there are pitfalls and difficulties at every stage of the process.

    I've traded stories with a lot of writers at different places in their writing journeys, and the one consensus experience is, this is just a brutal business. It is very hard on you. It's a psychological bootcamp, all the time.

    Take care, and may 2011 be a Year of UnSuck.

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  115. You are so brave, Natalie. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. We all know, to some degree, the pains of publishing. But you said it with such eloquence and such beautiful faith.

    Love your blog.
    D

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  116. Aw, Natalie,sorry you've been through so much lately. I've been talking to a few other you know whos, who feel discouraged at times too. It's a tough market out there right now. But you always persevere! I think we need another long weekend get together in February. (I know I need some motivation right now and I miss my writing buddies!) :) At least you have a highly popular blog. That's validation!!! You're awesome!

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  117. Hope Clark put this on Facebook, and I just finished reading it. I want to say thank you for writing this. I am just beginning a writing career at 59 and don't know what will happen. However, I love to write which in a way expresses me, and sometimes, rids my soul of darkness. So thank you re sticking with it. I hope this year will, not only be productive for you, but also profitable.

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  118. Thanks so much for writing this. It truly is something you can't talk about. It's good to know that it really does work that way, and it wasn't just my chain being yanked. :)

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  119. You're truly brave for writing this. You are not alone-or guess I should say we are not alone. Keep thinking about your successes (like finishing another first draft and reliving that high!). This business is difficult, but you can do it!

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  120. Thank you for such a brave and sincere post. You are not alone. *Hugs*

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  121. 120 comments telling you how amazing you are for writing this and all I can do is be 121.

    I thought that the process of being asked for a partial manuscript by an agent and then being rejected was awful. Even worse when I was rejected for being like the rest of the writers out there- not anything more, not special enough to stand out. So thanks, but no thanks.

    And the next day I saw an agent tweet for the Universe to put an amazing script on their desk. It was enough to pop.

    And then I see this. You are wonderful and you are brave. When those things don't attract the people and things they should, what in the hell is it all about?

    It is about hope even as we're shaken to the core with questions. I have to believe that the right person and the right situation haven't made themselves known. When they will, who knows, but in the meantime, we are NOT bad writers, we're just undiscovered, but close!

    Thank you!

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  122. That sounds like an incredibly miserable journey! Keep plugging along--my sister and I can't wait to buy your first book :)

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  123. I love your honesty - and your writing too!

    If you give up, I will too; so don't give up!

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  124. Okay, you win me in the year-of-suck competition hands down, even if my (very small, regional) publisher did reject two of my books. I've considered all kinds of choices, including short moments of insanity when I wonder what I'm doing thinking I'm ever going to sell another book. Obviously it was just luck that I sold two (even though I spent over a decade writing and rewriting and going to conferences and getting critiques and feedback on them). But as you said, writing something new, something fun that I wanted to try just for myself has reminded me why I'm putting myself through all of this. I can see where the problems in the stories are, I can do another stinkin' rewrite (or ten), and I can keep working at it, because life without writing would be far worse.

    Keep going, you'll get there. If one editor fell so completely in love with your story, someone else is bound to as well.

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  125. This doesn't help you now, and you've probably already heard this, but just in case you haven't: The agent I'm working with was relaying a story. He signed this client with an unbelievable manuscript (after she went through a few rounds of revision with him), and then ... it didn't sell. But she wrote another book, and it sold! A few years later, he looked at that first book again, and he still loved it as much as he did before. It went out on submission again ... and this time, the EXACT SAME BOOK ended up selling (at auction, I believe, if I'm remembering correctly).

    So, although it may feel like it, all is not necessarily lost. It just might be lost RIGHT NOW.

    This is my fear though, that when I go out on submission (next year?) that this book I spent a year writing and another year revising under an agent's advice (to date) will not sell. The thought is devastating, but there's nothing we can do besides do our best.

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  126. Wow, that was hard to read. I was so tempted to follow your advice and get a cupcake instead! But you're right, no one ever talks about what this is like, and it's important to know. People need to talk about this stuff more. But they don't, for all the reasons you described. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    I'm out on sub now too, and just trying really hard not to think about any of it. Trying to focus 100% of my brain on my new project. It's hard though. Because I keep wanting to think about all the stuff you've talked about here.

    I know what you mean about savoring the small miracles. When I was querying my first book (which didn't wind up securing me representation) I remember one day when I got three full requests in quick succession. I was over the MOON. Then, as one by one I got rejected by all three of those agents, it occurred to me that that day when I got those three full requests might wind up having been the best day of my writing career.

    Now I have an agent, but who knows what's next for me. We all know the fairy-tale stories, because they're the ones that get repeated over and over, and because no one wants to tell their story until it has a happy ending. Except that getting published the first time isn't an ending at all; it's the beginning of a whole new set of problems. I've read enough posts from multi-published authors with their own awful stories to tell. Advances spent entirely on publicity that resulted in absolutely nothing. Contracts canceled. Options passed on. You get a big advance, and then your book underperforms, and now the whole industry wants nothing to do with you. Or you get stuck with a cover that no one in the world would ever buy. Or your editor changes houses and suddenly your book is relegated to the bottom of someone else's to-do pile. Or your entire genre suddenly becomes unpublishable and you have to either switch to something you don't like as much or accept that you'll never be published again.

    I wonder what it takes to really reach a point as a writer when you feel happy with how your career is going. I was watching a recent John Green video where he was talking about how the thing with writing is that no matter what happens, you *never* feel like you're making enough money, and you *never* feel like you're well-known enough. Is it really only the Stephenie Meyers and J.K. Rowlings who are happy with their careers? And even they had their share of problems along the way. Hell, maybe James Frey is the only writer out there who's happy with his place in the world.

    Anyway, again, thank you for sharing. It's clearly meant a lot to a lot of people, and I'm glad I saw a link to it because despite everything I've learned from your story, now I have a very interesting new blog to follow! :)

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  127. Thanks for sharing your story Natalie. And please don't ever have a fit of isuckitis that leads you to delete your blog.

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  128. Oh. My. God. You just told my story. From submission to revision to a whole slew of editors loving the book to rejection. I am so sorry you went through this. All my hopes are with you.

    Good luck.

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  129. natalie, this is crazy. I bet ole' Karma's peeing her pants right now thinking of all the good things she'll be sending your way over the next couple years :) as one who finished my MS three weeks ago & am only two weeks into querying, this was actually really, really helpful. grounding, even. I think you have lots of folks thinking about you & praying for you tonight! keep us posted. xo kd

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  130. Hoo boy. That was hard to read. I can't imagine how hard it was to write. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story. I pray you have peace tonight that God hasn't written "The End" on this story yet.

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  131. Yes! Thank you for this honest post. I'm nowhere near your success right now, but this post resonated with me, too. The near misses are brutal. But even after all the disappointments, I still know what my #1 New Year's Resolution will be for 2011.

    Masochistic? Tip of the iceberg. :)

    We should all listen to that Mandy Hubbard. She knows what she's talking about!

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  132. You're amazing. Thank you for sharing this.

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  133. Ditto Mandy Hubbard's advice! She summed it all up beautifully. Just keep your perspective where it should be. Your kids are alive and well. You have your health. Every single thing that happens to you happens for a reason, when it is supposed to happen. Don't ever give up! And cherish the things that matter most in your life, like your family.

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  134. I'm glad you're sticking in there. Good will happen.

    *hugs*

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  135. Best blog post EVER. A really refreshing, honest look at the pitfalls of being an author. I loved reading it, it made me feel like standing up and fighting back.

    I'm sorry you have had a bad year. But you really have a great attitude about the whole thing. Not a shred of whining. You're one tough lady, and I take my hat off to you :)

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  136. I know what you mean about writers posting about failed subs — and moaning. I'm trying not to do this also.

    This, however, is no suicide post.

    This is inspiring.

    It's no fun pointing an arrow at a moving target, but in the final analysis — what else is there to do with your hands? Other than the XBox?

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  137. In case it helps to hear it from a complete stranger : ) you most definitely don't suck as a writer. Your very post proves this, ironically enough. Your writing, and your heart in your writing, is moving, touching.

    Your description of the stress you experience reminds me of the stress I felt while querying, *before* I was agented. I reached a point where I was so angry that the dream, a good thing, was turning into a personal hell, that I stopped in my tracks and made a conscious effort to rework my perspective.

    Truth is, the dream, the effort, the work isn't worth it if it leaves us twisted and mangled and less than ourselves.

    I do believe we travel our roads in life depending on what they have to teach us. The lessons can be both painful and fierce, but later, from time's bird's eye view, each trial-by-fire is worth its weight in gold. (And, funnily enough, our characters benefit from the journey, so completing the circle.)

    I'll be going out on sub soon, and I appreciate your post and your honesty. Thank you for that. I'm wishing you wonderful news in 2011! Go, writer, go!

    (And here's to all writers -- the bravest, most hardworking people I've ever been lucky enough to admire!)

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  138. *Hugs* Thanks for sharing your journey. It's enough to rip your heart out, but your hope and determination is inspiring. This is a crazy business. (This post proves you can write.)

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  139. Please don't give up. Keep writing! We all draw strength from hardships and just think of the amazing accomplishment when it does sell! Chin up!

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  140. Thanks for being so honest and sharing. I haven't even started querying but I am having a terrible time of doubts and wondering if I should just disappear. Your post really helped.

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  141. Thanks for sharing your story. I can relate to the silent torture of being on submission. Maybe one day I will have the courage to post about my journey. Glad you're sticking with it...just know you're not alone!

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  142. Natalie,

    You're courage is inspiring. It's rare that people find the will to be so honest about something so poignant. Thanks so much for being brave enough to tell the truth.

    I'm not going to cheapen your story by saying I can relate, but I will say that I for one think you, your writing, and your drawing are all amazing.

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  143. Such honesty, I wanted to cry reading your post. I hope things get better and you can keep your writing spark alive no matter what.

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  144. Nice to meet you Natalie. I found you through Joanna who posted about you today.

    Words of encouragement. I have been a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers for over fifteen years. I am the moderator of a critique group. I have had my ms. requested multiple times. I have been rejected each time with "we love it but it's not right for us."

    I even had an agent/editor say to me more than three times in a pick that lasted four minutes. "So why aren't you published yet?"

    E-publish. If you've done your work, and you know its good. Hire an editor, pay for a cover and put it on Amazon. I will post about this tomorrow.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

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  145. You are brave. I had a rough go last winter with my acting, a good friend (actually, who am I kidding, she is my therapist) asked me to remember that I am a good actor AND an actor who isn't working. The one does not negate the other. I could hold both of these precious truths at the same time. Maybe you can use this advice with your writing, remembering that you are a good writer and a writer with out a book deal.. yet.

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  146. I'm sorry to hear about all the bad luck you've had. This was really a great post, and I thank you for sharing it. My own experiences with publishing have been pretty disappointing thus far. But I take encouragement from the knowledge that no writer suffers alone. I hope that things start looking up for you in 2011. Never give up! Never surrender!

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  147. I've kind of died as I've watched all this happen, standing back, not knowing what to say or do at all. You have so much support everywhere, Natalie. I hope you never, ever give up!

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  148. What a beautiful, brilliant and brave post Natalie. Thank you SO much for speaking out and sharing this story. I think we're all afraid sometimes to admit how hard this all is and how much it hurts when you seem stuck in one place. I am sending all of my most positive publication wishes for you out into the universe!

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  149. Thank you for sharing your story. Wishing you the NON Year of Suck in 2011...

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  150. Best freaking post ever! Thank you for writing it, Natalie!

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  151. I can't add anything more than has already been said, but I wanted to give you a big hug! <<<<>>>>

    I just wrote an email for my wrimos about the price of this journey and if you don't mind, can I link this post at the bottom? I want them to understand what they are signing up for so they can be strong when things don't go as planned and your story is perfect.

    Stay strong, continue to remember why you write and eventually you'll find peace. *I hope it comes in the way you want*

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  152. Natalie,
    I wish you the best of luck with your writing. And don't you ever give up! All I can say is that when I have those same quiting thoughts, I think about Meg Cabot and Janet Evanovich. Those are the writers you should be looking at, not the overnight successes of the world. In the end, YOU are the person you should always be writing for. The rest comes later.

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  153. Thank you for sharing this, Natalie.

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  154. Natalie, thank you for sharing this. You're very brave and I encourage you to keep fighting! Fingers seriously crossed for 2011 for you (I have a good feeling). And what doesn't kill you makes you stronger right? No experience is ever wasted and I truly believe that. If all else fails, put some of your writing up on the blog a chapter at a time or something and watch us all clamber after it ;)

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  155. *hugs*, Natalie! That is all really, really rotten. I admire your courage and perseverance. Hang in there!

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  156. Hugs Natalie. Your post made me cry! What a sucky year, but I admire your courage. I think you deserve lots of success and cupcakes!

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  157. I'm adding my words! Thank you for making yourself vulnerable and sharing your journey. It is hard to see others around me getting the agent, getting the deal, seeing the book come. I'm happy for them but we always hope it will be our turn one day! Can't wait to celebrate with you when it's your turn!!!

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  158. Natalie you have such an amazing support group! We all love you and are very excited for big things to come! Hang in there. I know that is much easier said than done. It sounds like you have a great perspective on it all though. Hugs!

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  159. Thank you for sharing this honest post. Like everyone else here, I'm wishing you success!

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  160. I'm glad you're honest, I'm glad you shared, and most of all--I'm glad you're stubborn. Just having made it as far as you did shows that you have writing talent. Here's to 2011 and LESS SUCKINESS!!

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  161. Thank you for such honesty -- and that beacon of hope. Hold onto it!

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  162. Yes, there's always hope! It was amazing to read this post; it was very honest.

    I wish you much success to come.

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  163. I'm sorry for your year. You are truly an inspiration though--I probably would've given up, at least for some months. Yeah, I'm weak like that :P But reading this just gave me a little more strength and perseverence.

    2011 will be better :) Like you said, the only way is up!

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  164. Wow. I'm so sorry. This year must have been one scary never-ending rollercoaster. I feel like a failure even when I start doubting myself and putting myself down. I can't even imagine how stressful this year has been for you having other people make you feel like a failure. My heart goes out to you and I wish you the BEST of luck for 2011!

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  165. Hi Natalie - :) Thank you for such an honest, in your face, tell it like it is, soul-exposing post. This has got to be EVERY writer's fear. And many of their struggles. I know I identify with waaaay too much of this. It's so hard sometimes to not just throw in the pen and call it a forever. I can get lost in the business side of writing and forget that I grew up just loving to tell stories. I applaud your courage and your heart and your positive attitude to keep trying because you love writing! I sooo hope that 2011 brings you much happier things!

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  166. Oh, I am so sorry you have had to go through all this. (Yes, I know how heart-breaking it is form personal experience. The closer you come, the more it hurts! But I'm so glad you shared. It gives other people hope to see that they are not alone. The Writer's Book of Hope has also helped in the past. It takes well-known writers and documents the years of struggles they faced BEFORE they became successful.

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  167. This sucks. Totally sucks. Please stay strong. You've got a lot of people who believe in you and your writing behind you!

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  168. This is my first visit to your blog, although after reading this, I know I will be back. (I clicked over from Candyland.) I am so glad you shared your story -- and I am so grateful that many people shared their own stories in the comments.

    2010 should have been an awesome year. My debut novel came out in May. But starting around July, I was hit with bad news after bad news after bad news.

    This past month, I've been wondering the same thing as you -- maybe I should delete my blog, give it all up, be grateful I once saw my novel on the shelves of bookstores, put my head down, and be quiet. (I'm a teacher by day: thus, the put your head down and be quiet thing.)

    It is comforting to know that most people don't get a straight path to success. There are hairpin turns and switchbacks and sometimes dead-ends. The trick is not to give up at the dead-end, I guess, but to turn around and try another path.

    Thanks for daring such a poignant post.

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  169. AMAZING post. Thanks so much for being brave enough to speak out. This is something all writers go through, agented or not, and it's so helpful to know that we're not alone. :)

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  170. Wow. You an inspiration to us all, Natalie - the queen of perseverance. I KNOW your day will come, and when it does it will be BEYOND fabulous! Hang in there. We are all with you 100%. (((hugs)))

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  171. Oh wow, I'm so sorry you had to go through all that! Your blog was one of the first one's I followed when I started my own blog and account on blogger. And you know what- I still think you are totally awesome. I love your posts, and from your blog I can tell you are a wonderful writer. I only hope this coming year is the best year for you! Good luck with it all- and we're all here with you!

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  172. I really feel for you Natalie. But, I believe there's a fighter inside you. You can't give up on writing. I've had a very difficult 2010 (probably one of the hardest years in my life), and I've had to take the same attitude that you have. I'm alive and thankful for it. I think my writing sucks on so many different levels at times. I'm so hard on myself, too hard sometimes, that it stagnates everything. I don't want you to be stagnated by all that has happened to you this past year. I believe in you as a writer. Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we get to the top. And when you get there, it's going to be so much sweeter, because you're going to remember what it was like to be at the bottom. Best of luck. You can do it!

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  173. Wow, you certainly have been through the wringer...but I suppose what doesn't kill us makes us stronger! Hang in there! At least you know now that you have an excellent product ready for somebody to come along and love.

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  174. There are so many comments that you will never probably read mine. But just in case :

    Everything you've suffered has deepened your perception of what it means to be human.

    Success is promised to no one. The good often fall by the wayside. The less worthy seem to grasp the brass ring ... yet if you follow their lives, often that brass rings becomes a noose.

    Those who fall have the option to get back up. Better ... when they walk on and see another fallen soldier, they can empathize, making the way easier for that soldier to get back up on her feet.

    Your re-writes and new novels will now benefit from the altered perspective these sufferings have given you. Your characters and plots will have more depth.

    This year of storm is the harsh tuition you paid to become a better writer. You can succeed because the dream still lives in your bruised heart. I am rooting for you here in the cyber-darkness, Roland

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  175. Once again, I just want to thank you to everyone who took the time to share their stories and encouragement! Really, you are all amazing.

    And yes, I have read every comment. I wish I could reply to them all.

    Just, THANK YOU.

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  176. Natalie,

    I just read your post. Joanna St. James wrote a post on you. I am very sorry for the horrible year that you had endured. As you say, I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

    I myself had my heart ripped out, stomped on and shredded. Not in writing, but in my other career. It isn't fun and it wounds deeply. At these times in my life, I always seem to get a reality check. I has nothing to do with writing, it has to do with life.

    I have had friends die from terminal illnesses. Watching them suffer, really is a slap in the face. I am currently at a Florida resort and at a theme park I saw a teenage boy in a wheelchair with with muscular dystrophy or MS. His parents looked worn to the bone, and they tried to give this poor soul some quality of life. I can't begin to tell you how this scene ripped my heart out. Any time life brings me down, I see these poor people in my mind and I think.... "Thank God, I can walk. Thank God, I'm healthy. I can do anything, There is nothing to hold be back on any of my life's dreams. We all have choices in life. IF this doesn't work, the next will. If you feel your book is wonderful, put it out there yourself. We have options as authors. I know we all want the publishing contract, but the publishing world is changing..... we don't need them anymore!

    Good luck and remember you have everything good in your life.

    Michael

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  177. Oh, Natalie, that must have been difficult, but hopefully it was catharic sharing Your Year of Suck (maybe there's an idea for a story.) I also ran over from Joanna St James' blog. I haven't stumbled upon you before.

    I felt your pain. Pain hits in many ways. I haven't had any time to read other comments but I see gideon86's. Yes, there is terminal illness, but in a way our novels are our babies and we want them to be loved and treated well and, well...published.

    What does it take to get a book published these days???

    I can only hope and pray everyone going through this situation finds the strength to pick themselves up and keep writing, because what else is there??

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  178. I'm so glad you finally get to talk about all of this. I think it will help you with moving forward. It's so hard to keep it all inside. *hugs*

    Thank you for being brave enough to keep going. You inspire me, my friend.

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  179. Thank you for your honesty and courage. This industry is completely baffling, and I keep telling myself I should get out while I still have my sanity. My debut YA was published by a small press in 2009 and went on to win major awards and distinctions. As a result, I found an agent quickly. She loved my new YA project and promised a quick sale, but, out of the universe of major children's publishers, only one editor agreed even to read the new work seriously--and he didn't like my writing style.

    The small press that published the critically acclaimed YA novel (which sold out its first print run in hardcover and is now nearing the end of its second) went out of business four months after my pub date and sold its backlist to a university press that may or may not publish YA in the future. Another small press is interested in the new book, but my agent, who I really like, probably won't continue working with me if I sign with another small press, or with the university press, because they don't pay advances and have little marketing muscle. However, I'm at the point of accepting that I will forever be a small-press-published author and appreciate the opportunity small presses have given me to write and publish thoughtful, quirky literary YA fiction that can be appreciated by adult readers as well.

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  180. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU FOR THIS.

    Your story mirrors mine in so many ways. I didn't have the editor-revisions-that-ended-in nothing, but I had the agent-requested-rewrite that ended up pretty much the same way. And I've been on submission about the same length of time as you.

    Seriously. I nearly cried reading this. It felt like a huge release, to know I'm not alone and that these feelings aren't necessarily wrong.

    Thank you for talking about this. Thank you for your honesty. I'm going to bookmark this post and return to it in the bad moments. I have a feeling it'll help immensely.

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  181. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for saying this.

    You are speaking for so, so many people.

    Please, rewrite this post into a book proposal for something about the really tough parts of trying to be a writer!

    Best of luck to you!

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  182. Just wanted to send a big hug. So much of this business is about luck and timing. Don't give up. I know you're going to make it.

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  183. This should be required reading for every aspiring author. As someone who's still querying agents, I probably should have found your story daunting and disheartening, but I actually feel inspired. In the face of overwhelming disappointment, you did what great writers do - opened up, shared your words, and connected deeply to a ton of grateful readers. I have no doubt you have what it takes to keep up the fight!

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  184. We are not measured by the challenges we face in life, but rather by the steps we take to overcome them.

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  185. You will get there. Every time you feel that it's the end of the road, turn to this very blog. Look around! You have support and more importantly, a following. You're not doing this alone and yes, you're still doing this. Sending you a lot of faith. Everything happens for a reason and sometimes we never get to know what the reasons are until later on down the road. I can't wait to see that post;)

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  186. I'm so glad you poured your heart out on your blog. We all read this, shaking our heads. Yep, yep, and yep. We GET you, and understand how shaky the confidence is in the first place, and then to have all that happen? Not fun.

    I think it's wonderful that you went back to the beginning...your roots. Why you loved writing in the first place. When everything else is stripped away, that's what we can hold on to.

    Your time will come!

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  187. I'll second Rick's comment just above.
    I can't imagine the level of crap you've endured. I queried publishers for months before landing a very small publisher - but even though that book was released, as I work on the sequel, I realize that was probably my only shot. I'll be a one-trick pony author. And yeah, it'll suck. But I still have to try.
    So do you.
    Keep moving forward.

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  188. Wow, what hell you've been through, Natalie. I wish you the most fabulous success imaginable once you get that contract. I know that YA is really hot right now so I think it's worth it to pursue a major publishing house where your book can get more exposure. But what a difficult journey!

    I hope this blog/journal/diary entry helped you feel better. You mentioned the "fight or flight" response, which made me think of a recent study showing that this was more of a male response to threat. We women often handle threat most effectively by using a "tend or befriend" response, meaning we nurture others (often children) or talk to other women about our stress, and we feel better. Hang in there, chica!

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  189. Thank you for being so honest and open with your experience. You've really touched a lot of people out her in the ether.

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  190. I admire your courage and perseverance. You'll get there. :) Thanks for sharing! *hug*

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  191. Oh, wow, Thank you for sharing this. It must have been difficult to write it out to the world. There are no words of comfort, but I am proud of you. I really am.

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  192. (((hugs))

    You know what though? I can tell you with absolute certainty it gets better if you hang in there. I have a similar "writers' worst nightmare" history...

    Sold the third book I wrote to Harlequin/Silhouette's "Bombshell" line of women's action/adventure novels, then got the "un-call" a year later that they were canceling the line a month before my scheduled debut. I wrote a new book and used that to query agents, four of whom offered to rep me. I picked wrong, and had to extricate myself from that relationship a year later. Then I signed with my amazing agent Michelle Wolfson and we spent the next two years going through exactly what you've described...endless submissions, editors who were certain they were going to buy it and then got shot down by ed board or left the company before the acquisition could go through. It almost became comical at a certain point.

    But the happy ending (and the reason I'm telling you this) is that Michelle landed me a lovely three-book deal this past February. And I've gotta tell you, there's no greater feeling than looking at that book contract and saying to yourself "damn right I earned this."

    Chin up. It'll happen for you soon.

    Tawna

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  193. I'm late to the comments but I just wanted to say that, unfortunately, I know exactly what you went through. All three crappy things? They happened to me. Complete rewrite of new book. 2 failed acquisitions meetings with revisions. Losing the agent.

    I wish that I didn't know what this was like. I wish you didn't either. This post resonated with me so much.

    I did end up quitting for a few months. Or maybe it was just taking a break. I couldn't handle it and I needed to recharge my batteries. I guess you might say I hit rock bottom.

    But I'm hopeful again. I have a new agent who loves my book. I'm working on revisions for her that I'm super excited about. The book will go on submission in January.

    And yeah, the same process might happen again but hopefully it won't. And if it does, I'll be stronger now to deal with it.

    I'm sorry, Natalie. But you're in good companY!

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  194. I'm so glad you shared this with us. It comes at a time when I, myself, am questioning what I am doing. My blog post today is a book review you might be interested in. It shines a little light into a world that is too oft romanticised, just like your post.

    I wish you nothing but the best with your writing.

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  195. Reading this felt raw and scary and . . . beautiful. THANK YOU. I followed Shannon O'Donnell to your blog and I'm so happy I did. Reading this made me feel brave again. THANK YOU for being so honest and showing hope in the midst of the storm.

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  196. Natalie, I'm glad I found this blog post. I've had an agent for nearly 3 years and my book has been on submission for about 18 months now. I publish in another genre with a small press--so that keeps me sane for the most part.

    I've been turned down by the "big" publishers, and one of them 2x. So, yeah, if I can hang in there, I think you can too!

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  197. Natalie,
    Such a raw & honest blog post. As someone still in the querying process, it's a humbling reminder that trying to get published is not for sissies.

    Hang in there, and I wish you all the best. Please count me in to buy your book when it comes out. :-) You have lots of us cheering for you. I really, really hope it clicks soon for you.
    Lynne

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  198. I've been on sub for about 7 months and been down some of the road you describe. It's so hard to see your dream deferred when you have no control over it. I believe in my heart that my novel is a story worth telling. SOMEONE will get IT. All it takes is one person. I hope that day comes soon for me and you.

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