Writers Helping Writers, Assumed Rejections, and Cake!

Good things first: e got me a “Happy Book Deal” cake this weekend and even as I type this I want another slice. (No, really, where is it? I want another slice.) I asked him if I would get a cake for every book deal and he said yes. Isn’t he wonderful? I hope this isn’t the only book deal of my life because I really like cake.

Yesterday I dropped out of a work-for-hire project I’d agreed to write—another book in the series that is holding me captive right now. (Update: original due date was 3/17; extended due date was 3/24; thanks to the flu, I am still writing it.) I couldn’t have written both that book and the one I just got accepted without quitting my day job, so I had to choose one. The one that just got accepted is an original—the choice is clear.

In doing so, I also happened to learn that a project I’d pitched had been rejected a while ago but no one thought to tell me. This is how things tend to go for me—I even get a no without knowing I’ve got a no! No big—I’d assumed they weren’t interested and moved on already. Also, now that I think about it, I’m realizing that one of the characters from that unwanted pitch evolved, admittedly drastically, into the narrator of the book S&S wants to publish, so I wouldn’t want to go back to the old idea anyway. What’s the lesson in this? Through rejection comes acceptance… through perseverance comes rejection when you don’t care anyway? I dunno.

I also went out after work with the person who recommended me to S&S. I don’t know why she did that, but thanks to her I am publishing my first novel. Without a finished manuscript or an agent I can’t imagine that I would have been able to make this happen on my own. I tried to tell her how much it meant to me and I almost got all choked up. Better not try to explain it in words. She also gave me advice on future projects, on agents… You know, not once in graduate school did I get such generosity from writers I would technically be competing against. No one* has ever helped me before like this. Is it just that we’re afraid we won’t make it if someone else does?

As for the writer who helped me, I think I’ll “pay it forward”—someday I’ll help another writer get her/his break. If you ask me, every writer deserves cake.

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* Oh, wait, that’s a lie. A famous children’s book writer once generously tried to help me publish my litfic novel. The answer to that question resides in a publishing black hole and I will probably never learn the truth of it, but I can’t forget how she tried to help me, no matter how it turned out. Looks like I owe two future writers favors! 

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