This is both a personal and professional anecdote today, but it is meant to inspire you to never give up on your dreams and to never let someone else claim your power.
Ever since I was a child I always dreamed of being a writer. It was my first interest. I got sidetracked along the way with dalliances in theatre and film (which were actually quite enjoyable) but ultimately I knew I wanted to write books one day.
So when I decided to get serious about it and took a writing class in my late twenties, I fell in love with writing. It felt natural, it felt fulfilling and it felt like something I was meant to do. The creative process was so magical. I wrote two books (Lessons from Madame Chic and my mystery that will be out later this fall) and it was time to share them with the world. Only thing was, I needed representation. I needed an agent. I needed a publisher.
So I started to submit Lessons from Madame Chic to literary agents. I submitted to a lot of literary agents. Many of them showed interest and even strung me along for quite some time, asking to read the proposal, wanting more chapters, etc. But ultimately they all rejected the book for one reason or another. Most of them said they didn’t think I would have an audience for the book. That it had been done before.
In my heart I knew this wasn’t true, but the rejection still hurt. I heard that this was typical. That in this day it is very hard to get representation unless you are a celebrity or a reality TV star. Each rejection felt like a slight punch in the belly and I went through a momentary dark phase where I thought that perhaps my dreams had come to an end.
Then I realized I was placing my power in the hands of other people.
Why should I let other people determine my fate in becoming a published author? This was my life after all! I decided to take control.
I self published my first book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris, in the fall of 2011. Since being published, the book has been featured on CNN, BBC, 35 newspapers across North America and has received so much support from the readers that identify with it. It has remained on the Amazon bestseller lists in three categories in both America and the UK since its debut and hasn’t budged yet.
The book’s success has taken me by surprise. I think a large part of me believed those agents who rejected me. I wasn’t sure anyone would actually read it! I learned a lot from self publishing and I will definitely do things differently next time. The book is not perfect and the first edition contains errors that got past four of us editors- which in this world of airbrush and polish could be viewed as an interesting study. Alas, these are the perils of writing a book as a sleep deprived mother of a newborn baby! (As a side note, these errors are currently being fixed. The paperback will go off sale shortly to enable this, and then the kindle. And yes, I will hire a professional editor for all future books.)
But most readers are able to look past the imperfections and embrace the true heart of what the book longs to convey- that a life lived passionately is all that matters. That being chic isn’t only about style and the tangible aspects of living, but the intangible as well. That it doesn’t matter what you do, but how you do it.
If you are ever faced with rejection in your life (whether romantic, professional or creative) it’s OK to feel that initial bruise. Go ahead, you can even cry (I did!) But never let anyone else hold the power to your life. If you believe you can do something, then you can do it. And if you have drive, a positive attitude and come from a place of love, you will succeed.
I would love to know… what is your experience with rejection? And how has it shaped you?
**Update: Lessons from Madame Chic has been acquired by Simon & Schuster and will be re-released in the Fall of 2012!
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