Persevering Through Roadblocks
As I began my publication journey, I expected the road to be arduous. So I prepared. I put my craft muscles through years of intense training and stretched myself in critique groups and contests.
Then in 2007, I had a completed novel, my first, and I took it to the ACFW conference. I arrived a day early and worked at the volunteer station stuffing envelopes. A woman worked beside me who shared my first name. That’s fun, I thought. However, as time ticked on, I picked up clues to her identity from others in the room. This was Karen Schurrer, an editor from Bethany House, my dream publisher. Only the Lord could have orchestrated such a meeting.
I resisted throwing my pitch at her or asking her to look at my one sheet. I didn’t even mention that I wrote historical romance. I simply smiled, walked with her to the elevator when we finished, and waved at her whenever I saw her during the sessions. Two days later, I sat at her lunch table. After everyone told her about their projects, one brave writer asked if we could send her our proposals. I owe that dear soul a great debt of gratitude. Ms. Schurrer said yes.
After the conference, I sent in my proposal and soon had a request for a full manuscript. Surely a contract was right around the corner. Then came the roadblock. Not a zigzag in the path, not a small obstacle to hurdle, but an impenetrable, brick wall. The acquisitions editor rejected my manuscript. She considered the plot too unoriginal for launching a new author. Nevertheless, she complimented the writing and said there was one component to the story that she did like—the dress shop. Could I come up with a new idea surrounding a dress shop?
Now, in the original book, the dress shop burned to the ground in the prologue. It didn’t even make it into chapter one. Yet she wanted me to create a 95,000 word story from scratch based on this inanimate object. That was a lot to ask. Maybe I should just seek publication elsewhere.
But I couldn’t turn away. She had opened a crack in my brick wall, and I had to see if I could find a way through. So I began brainstorming, and the acquisitions editor offered wonderful feedback, convincing me of her genuine interest in the project. By January 2009, Bethany House offered me a three book deal set to launch with The Dressmaker’s Proposal (working title) in summer 2010.
Roadblocks signify different messages to different travelers, but before you choose an easier path, consider that it might be a test of your perseverance. Don’t be so attached to your current words, that you are unwilling to set them aside and scale the wall. Your dream might very well be waiting on the other side.