Thick Skin

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The life of an author is an emotional roller coaster. Truly, each day of the week brings along something new that makes me want to cheer, cry, scream, or do cartwheels. If I’ve learned anything since beginning this journey, it’s that an author must grow very thick skin; it is crucial for survival. I had no idea just how important this would be when I started down the road eighteen months ago.

I’ve gone back and forth about how open I should be concerning my writing process. I am one who tends to focus on the positive, and most of the time, I only want to post positive things. However, I realize that may be a bit misleading. The author life is certainly not all “rainbows and puppy dogs,” and I think it’s good to throw in a healthy dose of reality every once in a while.

On Tuesday, I shared two new 5-star reviews for my debut novel. I’ve also received emails this week from other new readers who are enjoying my book, and I’m practically bursting at the seams for the release of my second novel next week. These are the things that make me want to cheer. These are the things that keep me going when it seems like it would be easier to quit. These are the things that keep me pursuing this crazy dream of mine. These are the “feel good” stories.

However, that’s not the entire picture. While continuing to write new books and market the current published ones, I’m also trying to find the perfect publisher for my latest completed manuscript. You might think that this would be an easy feat for an author who already has two previously published novels. You would be wrong. You see, each new book brings with it new challenges and hurdles to overcome. Each new book is different, and is going to appeal to different people (and publishers!). Therefore, finding the right home for each new book is a uniquely difficult undertaking. During the submission process of a new book, that thick skin becomes especially necessary.

Right on the heels of glowing reviews, heartfelt messages, and accolades from readers came two rejections. I’ve certainly been rejected before, and let me tell you, it stings. It hurts deeply; it cuts to the very core of my self-worth as a writer. It feels much more personal that it should, but it is personal. It is my heart and soul, my work over which I’ve cried, toiled,and agonized.

Today I received back-to-back rejection letters from two publishers with whom I deeply wanted to work. I aimed high with these two, and quite honestly, didn’t really even expect an answer. Although I was rejected by both, what I also got was validation. Both of these publishers actually took the time to read my story. They both said that it was touching and well-written. One of the publishers called me a “very talented writer” and said that reaching the decision not to publish my work was something about which the editors had many discussions. It finally came down to a publishing schedule which was already too full.

I’ll admit, both of these rejections were tough. I would be dishonest if I said otherwise. However, these were two of the most sincere, honest, and validating rejection letters that I have ever received; for that I am truly thankful. You see, I was afraid to submit to both of these publishers. I was scared that I wasn’t good enough. Yes, I ultimately got rejected, but it wasn’t a form-letter rejection. It was personal. Each one actually read my work; they spoke about my characters. They told me what they liked about it, and although they ultimately passed on publishing it, I still felt good.

I did the thing I was afraid to do. I aimed high. I reached for the stars, and even though I didn’t actually catch one, I somehow feel like I won. I learned that my story is good. My book is well-written, and while neither place was the perfect home for this particular book, that perfect home is out there. My skin got a little bit thicker.

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