Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Getting Published, Not: Guest Post by Faith Hough


I am very honored to host the brilliant Faith Hough (check out her blog here). Faith is an incredible writer-mama and is the queen of multi-tasking. In addition to that, she's actually also my cousin =) Anyway, without further ado, may I present to you the genius of Faith Hough!!



When Anne Marie asked me to write a post on “Thoughts on Getting Published,” my first reaction was, “Well, I don’t know anything about getting published. I’m not published yet.” But the truth is I know a whole lot of stuff about not getting published--and how great it is.


Yes, you read that right. NOT getting published is the best thing that ever happened to my writing. Each of the hundred-some times it happened. Here’s why:


Displaying Faith and Maddie.jpg
Maddie and Faith
When I finished my first book, I was rip-roaring excited to send it off to a publisher and see my hard work enshrined between two hardback covers. I decided to enter a contest for unpublished writers first, and a few months later I found out that my story was a finalist. I gleefully, glibly, and gullibly sent it off to an editor and started my daily mailbox check.


A year later....my first rejection. I was crushed. Much chocolate was consumed. I cried. My one-year-old first born rubbed my cheek in bewilderment. With my own bewilderment, I re-opened my manuscript, prepared to be wowed by my writing prowess and angry at the fools who turned it down.

Instead, I noticed a major grammar error on the first page. A few pages in, I saw a historical inaccuracy. After ten minutes or so of reading I realized I used the word “felt” far too often. The writing, instead of stunning me, looked amateurish and stilted. It was nowhere near the level of the new book I was working on.


Fortunately, most writers have this exact experience, and we all realize how much better we are for it. A few unfortunate young writers hit just the right spot in the market and are able to get their first books published far too early--because the publishing business is indeed a business and they’re there to make money. When I chuckle at the bad writing in published, highly successful (and oft-ridiculed) books, I now try to remember that, “There but for the grace of God go I...”


I do believe the grace of God has plenty to do with it. Certainly I’m not the only writer who has given in to falling to her knees and begging God to “Please please please please please let them publish my book!” like a three-year-old begging for candy. But just like I know that too many jelly beans would be bad for my toddler, God knows that success at the wrong time would be bad for me.


My more recent works (I’ve written five complete novel manuscripts altogether) are more polished and sophisticated than that first foray, but I’m still trying to be grateful every time one of them is turned down by an agent or editor. Sometimes God allows me to see the advantages of His timing. Sometimes I’m left in the dark. But as He’s never been wrong so far, I figure I owe it to Him to “be thankful in all circumstances.”


One of my literary heroes, Madeleine L’Engle, dealt with this same issue. Her agent submitted A Wrinkle in Time over a period of ten years, only to meet with rejection after rejection. A few nice editors told her how much they liked it but were afraid to publish it for various reasons. She was crushed. At one point she decided to give up writing and try working on making better pie crusts instead...until she was distracted from her despair by trying to figure out exactly how she could portray it in words. Finally, at the end of those ten years, a chance meeting brought her into contact with an editor from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He loved it. He told her not to expect to make any money from such an odd story, but he decided to publish it nonetheless. It went on, of course, to win the Newbery Medal, sell over ten million copies, and become a lasting favorite of generations. In her book A Circle of Light, Madeleine acknowledges her debt to God for allowing all those rejections and for saying “no” to her prayers year after year. Clearly, His timing was perfect.


Of course all writers want to be published; if we’re bothering to write, which is no easy task, we want our words to reach as many people as possible. But I advise you not to worry. Make good art--and leave it in God’s hands. Take every rejection as an opportunity: to hone your skills, to study the great writers, to develop trust. To build up life experience which can only better your subsequent work.

And if you’re currently in the submission trenches, I do hear that you can order chocolate from Amazon via Subscribe and Save... Chocolate always helps. :)







34 comments:

  1. This was one of the best posts I've ever read! thanks for the read!

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    1. I say that every time Faith writes something! =)

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    2. Thank you. :) I hope it encourages you to keep on writing!

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  2. Haha every time I hear someone saying that chocolate always helps, I hear Remus Lupin in my head saying, "Eat; you'll feel better." And I know how true that is!

    Faith, this is a wonderful post. I really love how you explained that God's timing is perfect. Because even though I believe that and apply it to most areas of my life, I've (for some reason) never really applied it to my writing. Thank you so much for opening my eyes!

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    1. Thank you for your comments, Anna! Yes, she opens my eyes a lot to to seemingly obvious things =)

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    2. Um, yes, Anna, I do hear Lupin's voice in my head when I say that, too. :) Not the movie version, but the way he talked in my head when I read the book. :)

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  3. I've learned so much AFTER I got my first publishing contract:) It was nice to see my first book in print and actually win an award, but I'm holding out for an agent for my other books. They can promote way more than I am capable of (and I promote a lot!). And they can get your book into the bigger pub houses. Always hire an editor or join a crit. group. And don't forget beta-readers. It pays to edit a thousand times over!

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts, Jennifer! Betas are the best.

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    2. I don't know WHAT I'd do without my critique partners, Jennifer. They've helped me grow so much as a writer and a person. Congrats on your book being published!

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  4. This sounds a lot like my experience when I first sent out my complete manuscript. There was a lot wrong with that one too.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us, Faith!

    And thank for bringing this guest post to us, Anne!

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    1. Thank you, Chrys. I guess we'll never have a ms we're totally happy with months or years later, but it's nice to get a second (or third or fourth or twentieth) chance to make it better, isn't it?

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  5. So true! I feel the same way about God's timing. It wasn't just that I wasn't ready writing-wise with my first book, but if I would've been published then, I wouldn't have had much humility. That's certainly something rejections teach you!
    Thanks for such an inspiring post!

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  6. What a wonderful experience to share and remind us all that you need to learn from each experience and find a positive. I agree that when I finished my second manuscript and went back and reread my first I was amazed at how much I had grown. Some space from the work helps too.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Love the new photo Anne Marie.

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    1. Thanks, KAT. (And I like the photo, too, btw.)

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  7. What a wonderful post! Thank you for the reminder to be thankful in ALL circumstances, to trust God's timing, and to keep that sense of humor!

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    1. So true, Vijaya! Thanks for visiting.

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    2. Yes... it's easy to be thankful when we can see the big picture, and always difficult when some of it is shrouded. Mostly it helps to remember that there IS a big picture.

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  8. Wise words, Faith. My first book will be published in about two months, but it took about TEN YEARS to get there. To paraphrase Dory, "Just keep writing, just keep writing..."

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  9. A really great post! It helps us keep it all in perspective. And yes, God's timing is always perfect, even if we don't have the eyes to see it at the time. Thank you for sharing.

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  10. I am very happy I read this post today. It was a much needed reminder. I too, found myself appalled at my early writing and so very happy I've learned what I have over the years. And, like you again, sometimes I wonder just how much I have to learn before I actually get where I want to be! Anne Marie and Faith, thank you for sharing, Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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    1. I'm glad you appreciated it. Thanks for visiting!

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    2. Ditto to what Anne Marie said. :)

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  11. Great, I wish you the best of luck with your current works.

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  12. Faith, keep the faith! You WILL get there. How do I know? After 6 years in Query Land, I recently landed an agent and actually had more than one offer. After years of hearing "just didn't love it enough" or "didn't connect with the voice" I heard words like "beautiful" and "gorgeous" instead. So hang in there. Your gratitude for the rejection will open the door to Acceptance. It did for me. :)

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  13. Great post! I've had a few years on getting published(not), and Faith really puts it into perspective.

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