Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Highs and the Lows

by Stephanie Black

I knew the Whitney Award finalists were going to be announced Monday morning at 7:00 MST. This means that on Sunday night, my brain was completely Whitnified. Hoping . . . hoping . . . hoping . . . urrgh! Knowing there was a ton of competition in the Mystery/Suspense category . . . double urrgh! . . . knowing there was nothing to do but wait until morning to find out if my book had made the finals . . .

Being a writer seems to involve a lot of nail-biting waits.

Not surprisingly, on Sunday night, I kept dreaming about the results being announced. Normally we get up at 6:00 on a Monday morning (which is 7:00 Utah time), but the kids didn’t have school that day, so no early morning seminary. When I looked at the clock and saw it was 6:15, I knew the time had arrived—the results were posted!—but I stayed in bed, feeling somewhat chicken. What if I went and checked and the news was disappointing? As long as I didn’t check, then I could keep hoping. Well, that didn’t last too long before I went downstairs and opened up my computer.

Finding out that Fool Me Twice was a finalist in two categories was one of those amazing, thrilling moments that make the stress and the un-thrilling moments of being an author worth it.

As authors, I think we’re all hungry for validation. With each book we write, with each manuscript we submit, with each new release, with each review, we’re wondering, “Will they like it? Will it be successful? What will reviewers say? Will people who liked my other books like this one?” And so on. When feedback is good, you can store up a lot of validation for the moments that aren’t so validating. Because those moments will come. It’s part of the business.

Take rejections. My most painful rejection came on a hot June day, my kids’ last day of school. I had e-mailed my editor that morning and asked if there was any news on my manuscript. She replied that she had some committee notes; let her clear off her desk and she’d get back to me that afternoon.

That was a horrible moment. I knew this couldn’t possibly be good news. If the book had been accepted, she would have said so, right? But she hadn’t actually said it had been rejected, so there was still hope, right? Right? Right? I went with my son to a last-day-of-school pool party, and while he swam, I worried about the book. I had such high hopes for that manuscript. When I returned home, an e-mail from my editor was in my inbox. It was a very nice e-mail, and she took the time to explain the issues to me. It wasn’t a problem with the quality of the book, but rather with the marketability. The manuscript had been rejected.

I felt like I’d walked straight into a brick wall. That was the first rejection I cried over. It probably won’t be the last.

The next year, on the last day of school, I went with my son to the same house for the same pool party where I’d sat worrying the year before. Déjà vu—but not quite. This time, folded up in my pocket, I carried a printout of the e-mail from my editor telling me my new manuscript had been accepted. Yes, I brought the e-mail with me. I didn't show it to anyone. This was just for me. I wanted to privately celebrate the joy of this year’s success, which had followed the previous year’s painful rejection.

I'm going to print out the press release announcing the Whitney finalists. It could be a good thing to have around when bad moments come.


At 2/11/2009 5:17 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Definitely--print it out, read it, savor it! We all need those validating moments.

And congratulations! I read your book when it first came out because I had a sneaking suspicion that it would end up as a finalist. I so called it. :D

At 2/11/2009 5:19 PM, Anonymous Amy said...

You printed it out and carried it around with you, and didn't show it to anyone? You could have at least showed it to the bag boy at the grocery store...

At 2/12/2009 9:10 AM, Blogger Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Congratulations on being a Whitney finalist!
And I love your story about carrying around the acceptance letter in your pocket and savoring it as a wonderful, affirming secret.

At 2/12/2009 10:54 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Annette, I'm SO glad your sneaking suspicion was correct! :)

Amy, maybe I'll try that next time . . .

Thank you, Kimberly! And congrats on your new book deal!

At 2/12/2009 5:47 PM, Blogger G. Parker said...

Your book definitely rates!! Way to go, I loved it!

At 2/12/2009 6:35 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Thank you!

At 2/12/2009 9:17 PM, Blogger Melanie J said...

Congratulations! I read it and the nomination is well-deserved.

At 2/13/2009 12:49 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Thank you, Melanie!


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