I wrote a novel and thought it was time to tell you

I wrote a novel. Three years ago I started writing it. Two years ago I finished. Today I decided to tell you. 

I've been meaning to tell you for awhile. But I was waiting... waiting for something bigger, for something more exciting. I wanted to tell you I had a huge publishing deal in New York City, a fancy literary agent, and a good shot at making it on the New York Times Best Sellers. 

My goal was to be twenty-years-old and utterly established. I had dreams and goals and a 5-step plan. I told God I would never self-publish. I told God I would only release my book if I made it to the top. Shooting for excellence, you know? I decided anything aside from the best would be simply considered as mediocrity. 

It took me two years to realize otherwise. The past few years I have been relentlessly querying literary agents in New York City. I would find the most popular young adult authors in the bookstore, then trace their literary agent's name and publisher who was listed on the back cover. I'd go home and query them, silently begging them to validate me as a writer and human being. I thought if someone well-known accepted my writing, then I must be worth something, too.

I was rejected over 50 times. Rejection letter after rejection letter landed in my inbox. Each one was kind, offering encouragement to try again at another time, or informing me that my story just didn't fit what they were looking for.

In the beginning, I used the rejection as fuel to send more letters, to tighten my writing, to take the time to pray about the right agent—who would surely send my novel to the top of the publisher's list.

But no matter what I did, I continued to be rejected.

Was I a bad writer? Should I not pursue writing fiction? Should I stick to journalism, or hand-lettering, or maybe move on to working at McDonald's?  

I thought I was only worth something as a writer if I was on the New York Times Best Sellers. 

God was slowly, kindly, tenderly teaching me something else. It took me two years to learn that the validity of my writing and the definition of my worth are not tied to a fancy literary agent or a publishing house in New York. 

So now, after years of telling God otherwise, I have decided to self-publish my novel. 

I had to get to the point where publishing it myself didn't feel like settling. It doesn't feel like settling anymore. It feels like the most exciting prospect of my life. 

My book used to be about becoming known. I can sincerely tell you it's not about that anymore. I'd like to start small, taking the hours and days and months and years I have spent on this story, and quietly offering it out into the world. 

Maybe it'll just be my mom and my sister and my best friend who read it. But that's okay. Because the lessons I have learned these past three years—that my worth and my writing are not determined by what anyone says or thinks—well, those lessons mean far more to me than getting on the New York Times Best Sellers. 

I haven't given up hope on that, though. But it's certainly not the driving force for why I write. It used to be. Not anymore.

Soon my novel will be released into the world. I'm petrified and elated and grateful that God has been so kind to me, quietly molding me into someone who recognizes her worth. 

I don't have a hard release date for the book yet. This is all very new to me, but I'll make sure to keep you informed as I continue in this process. This is what I can tell you for now: my book is titled Come Find Me, Sage Parker, and is a contemporary young adult novel. 

I cannot wait to share my words with you. I've been waiting three years. I'll try my best to wait a little longer. 

Please don't let rejection have the last word

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Aliza -- 

Recently I've been struggling with rejection and countless doors slammed in my face that I thought would be wide open and I have been rethinking a lot of my dreams and goals and the things that I thought I was good at. I've been discouraged, felt like giving up, and doubting my passions and talents.

I'm a writer. 

I have always wanted to be a writer. 

I want to create beautiful things for the people I love. 

With colleges breathing down my throat and so many life changing decisions to make in the next year, I have been feeling so overwhelmed and scared and confused recently. When I try to explain what I want to do to people, it never makes sense. It doesn't fit in a specific category of careers.

-- E. 




Okay, E --

Let me first tell you how sorry I am that you've been experiencing rejection. It's such a crappy part of being a human, isn't it?

I read something this morning that bruised my heart until it was swollen: "Jesus, who never rejected anyone, was rejected more than anyone else." Suffice it to say, God gets rejection. He was the most rejected person on the planet.

On a scale of things I'd be fine with never feeling again, rejection is at the top of the list. So I want to affirm you -- it’s totally okay to feel crappy after experiencing rejection. And after that affirmation, I want to encourage you -- even though you’ve been rejected, that doesn't mean you’re not good at what you’ve been rejected at.

Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, was rejected by agents and publishers sixty times before someone gave her a shot.

Kathryn's friends and family members said, "Kathryn, we really think you need to move on from this project." Kathryn disagreed. So Kathryn started lying to them about where she was going. She'd say she was moving on, and then she'd sneak away to work on her book, to revise it one more time, to prepare it to send to -- yet again -- another literary agent.

One day, presumably after years of work and tears and sweat and effort and a whole lot of cursing, someone said yes to Kathryn. Someone gave her a shot.

Now The Help is a best selling novel and a major motion picture. All because one person, after sixty people saying no, one person said yes.

This story matters to me. I think sometimes rejection is a sign to move forward, but I also think sometimes rejection is when a person (or sixty) may not have quite grasped the potential of what stands in front of them.

I got shake it off stamped into a bracelet.

So that a) I can continually channel my inner T Swift and b) when the rejection comes -- which it always will -- I can do just that. Shake it off, shake it off. I know it's not that easy. Rejection is a slow and harsh burn. But I think sometimes we convince ourselves it's better if we hold on tight. Let me assure you from some serious experience: when your burdens are heavy, it's always better to let go.

For a long time I thought I had to do very specific things that would fall into line with God’s Big Plan For My Life.

What I’m learning is this: if I’m walking beside Jesus, completely in line with who he is, then his plan is going to fall into place because I’ll be beside him. I believe God’s plan for all people is to follow and love him so deeply, that everything we do is a reflection of that love.

Please don't let rejection have the last word, E. Let's be real, it's Fear who is speaking now -- hissing that you're not good enough. You can mourn and grieve how you're feeling in this period of rejection. But get up again, and try one more time. Maybe that time will be the moment when someone says yes. Maybe tomorrow someone will give you your shot.

If you need to write, write. (I happen to think Kathryn Stockett would agree with me.) If you need to create, create. But writing a book is not the epitome of success, and success doesn't equal happiness. Stick to who you are -- more specifically, to who God has created you to be.

And don't forget, E -- Jesus gets rejection.