As a writer you have aspirations, it’s natural, that your book, your baby, your novel will be the next Twilight Saga, the next Hunger Games, the next big thing. Though, it wasn’t my sole purpose when I wrote Black Five, to sell millions, there was a tiny little thought in the back of my head that said: what if? But I found myself, as I wrote the book, just wanting to make a difference in kids’ lives.
Now, there are three very important days in my very new writing career that I will always hold close to me:
First, the Rejection from Jodi Reamer’s assistant, Alec Shane, at The Writer’s House in New York City. Most of you are probably thinking: Who in the hell is Jodi Reamer? But many of us in the book world are like: JODI REAMER!
Allow me to name drop (and not out of pride). Just so you get the caliber of her name and the phenoms she works with!
...just to name a few.
Reamer serves as their literary agent, the one whose job it is to sell their books to publishing houses.
Perhaps it was the mention of Black Five and Jodi in the same email, I’m not quite sure. Because, you guys, it wasn’t a form rejection. It was an actual personal note from Alec, her assistant. Hi, Alec! *Waves excitedly from California!*
Why do I mention this you might ask? Not out of pride, or ego. It was a rejection after all, right? Why talk about a rejection?
For two reasons:
The Writer’s House is one of the oldest literary agencies in the country. One of the most prestigious. It’s like Cal Tech to the Ivy League. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates to the computer domain. And the woman who brought us Harry Potter, Ms. J.K. Rowling to the literary world. Many literary agencies get thousands of submissions per day. Thousands. They call it a slush pile. All too often (and I’ve received many) a form rejection (a generic ‘thanks but no thanks’) is often followed by a submission. But folks, not on March 3rd, 2015 for this novice writer. And here’s something else, many times, there’s no rejection at all. As noted on agencies’ websites: If you don’t hear back from us, consider it not a fit for our agency.
I have the rejection letter framed and in my writing room.
2. It gave me hope.
Many more rejections piled in after that.
What did I do with the 29th rejection? I ate it. Just kidding. I didn't. But I saved every last one.
But like a dear friend said, “J, all it takes is one person to believe. Stay humble. Find joy in the little things.”
It was tough. But I did. And if I broke it down the basic idea of why I wrote the book, it was simply this: to give kids a place to escape after school.
Well, I found someone who loves Black Five just as much as I do. Which leads to my next most important day—the day I signed a four-book deal with Poorhouse Publishing without an agent.
I was scared as hell. And excited. And tearful. But, I knew the Publisher had the same direction as I did. I knew we’d work well together. And we have.
And the final date, the one I hold very close to my heart, was my first piece of fan mail which I received on a Wednesday of 2016, after Black Five was published. It was from a girl named Dena. It was complete with red glitter. I cried like an idiot. Because, see, I’d met my goal. Impressing kids at the tender ages of 11-15, keeping their attention is tough—trust me, I have two nieces (ages 11 and 15) and with their snap chats, their Instagrams, their tweets, it’s hard to keep up!
Who knows, maybe one day, I’ll write another story and give Jodi Reamer and Alec Shane a ring (not literally of course). An email. A tweet, perhaps?
All this to say, at the end of the day, don’t give up hope. Follow your dreams. This shit is tough, stay encouraged, weed out all the loud noise, the voices in our head that tell us we aren’t good enough.
Write a book.
Go back to school.
See the world.
Query Jodi Reamer.
Apply for a job at Apple.
Run a marathon.
Whatever it is—DO IT. Now is the time. Don’t wait.
There’s a quote I love:
Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.
Now, I’m not saying you’ll die tomorrow. But don’t sit on thoughts, on dreams, because the “what-if-I-can’t-do-it” factor.
Now’s the time. Shut off the inner-critic inside of you and take the leap.
Do you think Steve Jobs knew what his future held?
Don’t you think Harriet Tubman (my hero) knew she had a tall order ahead of her in rescuing thousands of slaves?
Do you think Veronica Roth knew the gem she was sitting on?
And for the love of all things holy, don’t do it out of greed—do it because it’s in your heart.
Because in the end, it isn’t about money or about what others think about you, it’s about dancing to your own music and doing what’s inside you—and living a fulfilling life!
I highly doubt God is sitting at the Pearly Gates with a clipboard and The Heaven Checklist:
-how much money did you make?
-what kind of car did you drive?
-how many people did you impress?
“Perfect, you’re in!” God said.
And please remember, a dream without action is just fantasy.