109 lbs of Rejection

109 Lbs of Rejection – A Writing Update

When I started writing my first book six years ago, I had one of those “Aha” moments Oprah used to talk about. Every single thing in my experience, life, education, faith, personality seemed to come together in one overwhelming passion. I’d been blogging for years, but writing a novel was something else entirely. I wrote my first full-length novel in five weeks, and it was the happiest five weeks I’d ever spent. I love to re-read books, but I’d never lived in a story for that long. I fell in love with the characters and the adventure of it and every single thing about the writing process. However, I knew I still had a lot to learn about the mechanics, so I started devouring writing books and blogs. I attended writing conferences.

I started writing the second book in the series called “Summer Girl.” The third book, “Gypsy Heart,” followed. I went on to write two more books the following year, and by the end of that second year, I had an award-winning agent who was excited about my writing.

She pitched my fourth book “Calamity Jenn” to nine publishing houses. And over and over, I got the same response. “We love your writing. We love your story. But we already have someone writing in your genre.” Or, “We’ve just signed another author in your genre.”

It turns out, the Christian book industry is a very small world, and as I soon learned, the competition is brutal. I naively thought my stories would make a way for me and speak for themselves. But that just wasn’t true. I needed a platform and a marketing plan and the spots available were few and far between. Eventually, my agent advised me to scrap the book and move on.

I’d already finished my fifth book at this point. So I re-packaged it as the first in the series, and she began to shop it around. We immediately had interest from one of the top houses in the Christian industry. The senior editor loved the writing and loved my story. I was so hopeful as “Bye, Bye, Bailey” made it all the way to the pub-board. It felt like I was on the cusp of this dream coming true.

But, no. They’d just signed another romance author, a fantastic writer that happens to be a friend of mine. I was so very happy for her and so very heartbroken at the same time. They invited me to resubmit the book the next year when they might have more room in their docket.

In the meantime, I worked on my “required” writing platform. As many of you know who have been following me for a long time, I started sending out novellas to my newsletter subscribers. The stories coincided with holidays in the calendar and followed the adventures of the Mayberry family. And I have to say, I loved every minute of writing these stories and getting them in the hands of readers. It was joyous to get to share the stories. They are available on Amazon if you’re interested in reading them. Just follow these links:

During the year of the Mayberry’s, I also started work on a non-fiction devotional for teenagers entitled “We Wear the Cape.” It uses superhero stories to reveal the beautiful truth of the New Covenant and the message of identity that God wrote on every page of His story. The book was a labor of love for my own children, and I was thrilled with the end result… but then I didn’t know what to do with it.

I ghostwrote a children’s book teaching children about money management and investment, entitled “Gumdrops and Moneytrees.” I laid out the entire book, commissioned the spectacular original watercolor artwork, and then it, too, sat on my finished pile.

A Beautiful Day Once by Tracy Joy JonesI finished a stand-alone book entitled, “A Beautiful Day Once,” which is free if you sign up for my newsletter. It was supposed to be a novella, but it turned out to be a novel because I just love to write.

And the whole time I was asking the questions: What do I do with all these books? Should I just self-publish them? But what if I’m not good enough, and that’s why I’m sitting with a shelf full of books?

I desperately wanted the validation of a traditionally published book. I wanted someone to say, “You have what it takes.” But the more I sought it, the farther it flew from me. I finished the third book in my “Far from OK” series, entitled “Hello, Juliette!” And then, not knowing what else to do, I started a new series.

I have had a few victories along the way. I auditioned to write for Guideposts “All God’s Creatures” Devotional and am currently writing devotions for my third year in that publication. I published a short story in a compilation book, “The Horse of my Dreams.” I wrote another true short story which will appear in a book about angels sometime next year. But as much as I loved these opportunities, I was slipping further and further into discouragement with my novels.

Two non-fiction books, one children’s book, and eight completed contemporary romance novels, and one more 3/4 of the way finished… and nothing.

Writer friends tried to encourage me by telling me that I was lucky I wasn’t under deadline, and my time would come. Other writer friends told me everyone needs to “pay their dues” in the slog of publishing, and I still had years before I had the right to be discouraged. But it was my own self-doubt that paralyzed me during the process. I never stopped writing, but I stopped moving towards publishing, if that makes sense. I just couldn’t see a clear path and the disappointment became so thick and sludgy, I couldn’t find the energy to lift my feet. How do you go on social media and share about what you’re working on when you have no idea when and if your readers will ever see it? I couldn’t figure out the answer, so I stopped.

The discouragement lasted until this year when I made the decision to submit my book “Calamity Jenn” to a professional editor and go for it. My agent had already told me it was dead and the only way it would be published was if I self-published it, so what did I have to lose? I went for it and hired a professional editor. I could hardly wait to dive into the edits. I just knew my story would sparkle at the end, and I was thrilled by how much I would learn in the process.

It felt like Christmas morning when the edit arrived. That is, Christmas morning where you wake to find that your dog your died in the night and the Christmas tree caught on fire and all your carefully wrapped presents have been reduced to ash.

The editor hated my writing. Hated the characters. Hated the humor. They advised cutting it all, changing the plot, changing the character’s names, dropping the humor which they deemed “unrealistic, idiotic, and juvenile.” The edit was full of insults to the point that I wept for two weeks and then could only laugh. You see, “Calamity Jenn” is the story of a hot mess of a girl who is determined to rise above her disaster-prone past.

The thing that the editor didn’t know was that so many of the really awful moments in the story that they deemed unrealistic, actually happened to me. I’m convinced the editor would hate me if they met me in person. They probably have a very tidy, well-organized life, whereas I laugh my way through most days. I do ridiculous things on a daily basis, but I’m still a highly intelligent person. You can be both. I’m not sure my editor knew that.

When I finally realized that the editor’s rejection of my story wasn’t a rejection of my writing, but rather of an entire personality type, everything changed. Ironically, I had dedicated “Calamity Jenn” to “anyway who has ever felt like they were too much for others, and not enough for the dreams inside them.” And here I was, running around seeking everyone’s validation for the dream inside me while being told not to dream too big or expect too much. I’d allowed people’s low expectations and rejection to cripple my hope. I’d allowed the enemy to lie to me and clip my wings in discouragement.

After crying, and then laughing, and then getting angry, and walking through forgiveness, I finally came back to the place of surrender with my writing. God gave me this dream. He put stories inside me, and a fierce passion that loves every part of writing and creating, even the editing process. And my story is not anyone else’s story. My journey is uniquely mine, as yours is uniquely yours. We get into so much insecurity, condemnation, and discouragement when we compare our journeys. It’s a chronic sickness in the writing industry, and I almost drowned in it.

But I’m done seeking approval. I may still experience disappointment and rejection. My stories may not be your cup of tea. Or you might LOVE them and laugh, and they might encourage you to be your own beautiful, messy, creative, authentic self. That’s my prayer. But this journey is without a doubt a 109 lbs of rejection journey. Yet if I refuse to let rejection stop me, then what can men or women do to me? If I set my face toward my Heavenly Father and press forward, then I am only at the beginning, and I have a storehouse of stories to share and many more still to write.

This year, I will continue to write and write and write, but I am also determined to share and share and share. That’s why I’m blogging again. That’s why I’m slogging through what I hope will be the worst edit of my life. That’s why I’ve started “Fly Girl Press” (more about that later), and as I said in my last newsletter, it’s why I’m putting on my yellow dress and preparing to dance, with this as my promise:

109 lbs of Rejection by Tracy Joy Jones

109 lbs of Rejection. If you haven’t read my blog on 109 lbs of Disappointment, please go back and read it. I certainly hope 109 isn’t my writing number for rejection. But even if it is, I have set my face towards my Heavenly Father and when I write, I feel His pleasure. I love the fact that Jesus was a storyteller. He hid the truth in stories. There is even a brilliant verse in Matthew 13:35 that says, “All Jesus did that day was tell stories.” One more reason to love Him.

So what is the thing in your heart that has been buried in rejection? Maybe the enemy hasn’t overplayed his hand in your life yet the way he did in mine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bust out of his lies and go for it. As God spoke to my heart as I was writing Calamity Jenn, standing outside the house of a writer’s retreat where I felt like such a misfit, I just wanted to jump on the first plane home.

I stood in the shadows outside the brightly lit house, my eyes full of tears. “I’m too much, God. I’m too loud and too quirky and I laugh too much.”
And in the middle of my pity party, God whispered back, “But you’re not too much for Me.”
Stubbornly, I argued, “But I’m not enough for this dream inside me. I have so far to go.”
And again His loving whisper deep in my spirit, “But I am more than enough, and I am with you.”

Whatever your dream, your personality, your story — you are not too much. And God is more than enough for the dream He put inside you. He is always with you, too, sweet friends.

By the way, did you know that a group of pandas is called an embarrassment? Just one more reminder that the world might label you with insults, but they very frequently get it wrong.

Comments 2

  1. This touched my heart. It is so raw and honest. I think everyone can relate to it. thank you for sharing your heart.

  2. Oh Tracy, I loved your post!!!! My heart was touched as I read it and felt the ups and downs that you’ve been through and are still currently going through. It’s so clear that you’re just in “process” like so many of us are, regardless of our age. I suppose it’s one thing reading of someone else’s journey and being confident that surely they will come to the other side of it but when it’s our own process, we’ll, then it gets personal and real! We must encourage one another and build ourselves up in faith as this trial is producing patience (endurance, perseverance ). We are growing through all this and I feel that you have found the secret to walking this out…..laughter….joy! You were named Joy for a reason and that’s your personality given to you by God. So keep walking forward toward your dreams…..laughing all the way to the fulfillment! You’re enough!!!!!!!! In Him, you really are! I view rejection differently now…… when we are overlooked, it only means that they were not a part of our destiny! Keep going….. don’t give up! The right door WILL open and the right people will be there in God’s perfect timing!!!!!

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