To Move Forward or Stay Still?

I’ll admit it. I’m afraid.

It’s not like I haven’t been rejected before. Many times, in fact. But there is something about an agent’s rejection that hurts worse.

I know that doesn’t make much sense. After all, just because an agent wants to represent you doesn’t mean you will get published. Or at least, not anytime soon. But there’s this gut feeling I have that I won’t get published until I have an agent—someone out there schmoozing on my behalf, championing my work, getting it in front of publishers.

But I can’t get an agent until I actually sent query letters to them. And here’s where the fear has paralyzed me. There are three names swimming around in my head. Two I’ve met at conferences. One would be a completely cold query. In all three cases, I’ve procrastinated sending anything.


Am I afraid of more rejection by agents? It feels so much more personal from an agent. Or is it the opposite? Am I really afraid that I’m getting close, that one of these people will actually say the words “I want to represent you”? Am I more afraid of failure—or success?

The fact of the matter is that after over three years of sending out my work to be considered for contests and publication, I’m used to failure. I’m okay with it. It doesn’t devastate me like it did at first. It just seems par for the course. Sure, I’ve had some successes along the way with short stories and articles, and that has felt good. But I’m comfortable here.

What if my book is really at the publishable point? I’ve listened to so many published authors relate struggles with deadlines and edits and marketing and sales numbers that I don’t have a romantic view of publishing anymore. In fact in many ways, it terrifies me.

So what to do? Quit? Stay in my comfort zone? Or keep moving forward, in spite of my fear? If I’ve learned anything in my life over the past few years, it’s that God works in my weakness. He uses my fear to draw me to Him and to keep me humble. If He has truly called me to this—to writing—then I have no choice. I have to walk the road, in spite of my fear.

I have to move forward and trust the Lord who sees what lies around the bend.

10 comments on “To Move Forward or Stay Still?

  1. Way to go! I’ll be watching your progress, and rooting for you. Things are breaking for me, as well.
    Hooray for the Mount Hermon alums.

  2. I did! And got a request (already) to send the full manuscript!


    Thanks, Richard, for keeping me accountable.

  3. I’m Jill’s sister, and she sent me this link. I’ve enjoyed reading it very much, and appreciate your sharing so openly. All the best to you as you keep trudging along! 🙂

  4. Hard decisions… but without taking steps, one never knows… so, here’s to your courage… and here’s to finding where your writing fits in this world… for it does fit somewhere, it does.

  5. I’ve been procrastinating about querying agents as well. No one likes rejection. It’s a scary world out there, and the further you go, the riskier it becomes. Death of the idealism. Life to the criticism.
    Boy, I’m not much of a help, am I?

  6. I surfed in from Writer Interrupted and am looking forward to reading your past blog posts.

    Michelle Gregory

  7. D’Ann,
    In my “previous life,” as a physician I had over a hundred papers published and wrote/edited eight textbooks, so you’d think I was rejection-proof. Wrong. I’ve been turned down more times than a Holiday Inn bedspread.

    Take a look at the blog I posted ( a month or two ago, about getting an agent. And read the comments and who they’re from. Take the plunge. An acceptance would be great. A rejection isn’t fatal. And the only question that isn’t answered is the one not asked.

    BTW, I was rejected by two agents, finally accepted by another, and I don’t think it is going to make a bit of difference in the long run. God’s in control–not the agent, not us poor scriveners.
    I’m praying for you.

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