Sunday, September 16, 2007

Facing Your Fear

Fear is a terrible thing. Facing your fears is more so. I've found that as confident as I am in many ways now, I'm still harboring deep-seated fears of rejection.

Bad thing, rejection, for a person to have, but when you're a writer it's the worst. You'd think I'd have gotten over it by now, but I haven't. It's easy to tell a new writer that rejections are not personal. How do you make them believe it when you don't yourself?

I've gotten accustomed to it through the mail, and it's not so bad through email, but that face to face rejection is still a slap in the face. At my first ACFW conference, I had an appointment with an editor. I was attending the conference alone. I shook in my boots, my mouth was dry, and I could hardly speak coherently, but she agreed to accept a proposal for a book my writing partner and I had completed. Nice.

Then I had an appointment with an agent. Same physical symptoms. I walked into the room. The agent greeted me and asked if I had been published. I said yes and pulled out a copy of our book, Her Home or Her Heart. The agent looked at the cover, smiled and said, "I've read this. I loved it." I walked out of the 15 minute interview with a request for us to send her everything we'd written. We received an offer to represent us. Score! Not bad for a first time attendee.

That was five years ago. The agent, though a very nice woman, did nothing for us. We sold nothing else. After three years, our agent sent us an email and dropped us. Rejection again. We are back on our own again.

Things are looking up a little. Elaine has just signed a contract for her third novel, Sonora. We are waiting word on acceptance or denial from the same company for another of our novels. Prayers are going up all over for a positive acceptance for First I'm Nobody. Waiting is hard.

In three days, I head for Dallas and the 2007 ACFW conference. I'm scheduled for an interview with an editor and an agent. Everything within me wants to cancel both. I'm the shy one; Elaine is the confident one. Elaine doesn't do conferences. A waste of her time and money, she says. I understand her feelings, but I get so much out of conferences. It's not necessarily the workshops that I pick up techniques from, but it's the people I meet at them that are valuable.

Is God trying to give me more confidence by giving me these opportunities in spite of my fears? Or am I supposed to cancel my meetings? At this moment I don't even know what I'm supposed to pitch. Do I pitch First I'm Nobody to the agent and something else to the editor? Or do I pitch one of the other of the novels we've finished with? Or do I pitch something of my own? I don't know. Is my fear something Satan is sending to me, trying to make me fail? Or is God telling me to wait? God needs to send me a sign so I'll know. And I need that sign quickly.

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