Countdown to Publication Blog -- Week 7.

 She Writes amigas, I have a confession to make: I had a crisis of faith. It began with a question, sneaking up on me while I was doing something as ordinary as hanging up clothes in my closet, a question so blunt and bold that no one I knew had ever dared to ask it.  

“What if I never get published?”

            I stared at the clothes in the closet, my fingers clasping a wire hanger. I am a little superstitious.  It is impossible not to be when you grow up Puerto Rican with a devout Catholic mother who believes in Spirits. The question seemed to come from nowhere.  I took it as a sign, a warning not to get my hopes up.

            It had been three years since I had taken Cristina García’s novel writing workshop and I had diligently applied her poetry technique to my writing. The quality of my rejections testified that my writing had improved.  I had actually had an hour long conversation with an editor at Simon and Schuster who had read my coming-of-age novel after a year in the slush pile.  She said it was a lot better than many manuscripts she came across, but she didn’t think that it would sell except maybe to school libraries. Agents continued to reject my queries for the novel which would evolve into IF I BRING YOU ROSES. 

One literary agent wrote an angry rejection as to how the novel was too chauvinistic and sexist for her agency. I was a little hurt by that particular rejection because although the male protagonist IS chauvinistic and sexist, the novel certainly isn’t.

             I thought to myself: Would it be so bad if I just gave it up? If I did, I never would have to say “I have to write” ever again. I wouldn’t have to give up lazy summer days or cozy winter nights to write.  I could be a room mom and make friends with the mothers of my children’s classmates.  I could do lunch and go shopping with my sisters. Never again would I say to my husband “I can’t do ____________.  I have to write.”  What if I continue to make those sacrifices and still, never become published?  What if I work my whole life and never get an agent, never realize the dream of holding my book in my hand, seeing it on the shelf at the public library?  If I quit, I would never have to feel like an imposter when I tell people that I’m a writer and they ask where they can get my book. All those years, I felt that it was only a matter of time for my dream to come true, but what if it didn’t? 

            In that closet, surrounded by clothes, I had to face it—the simple truth— that I might never have a published novel. It humbled me to realize that it might be out of my power to achieve my dream regardless of how hard I tried and how much I worked.  It just might not happen.  I had given it my best and I could be proud of that.  I thought of where I came from: the Chicago ghetto where being afraid was part of life and how my parents instilled in their children the determination to do better and get out.  Did I have the right to give up when they didn’t?

            Then I thought of my own children.  They were in elementary school at the time, and that eventually the day would come when I would want to encourage them to try for their dreams.  But, how could I do that if I gave up on mine?  

            In that closet, I decided not to worry about becoming a published author. I was a writer and I would write.  Writing is the only way that I can quiet that urgency inside me that compels me to express myself. I decided that I would never again entertain that question “What if I never get published?, that I would never tell anyone that I was momentarily tempted.  And I haven’t, until now, She Writers, because I know you’ll understand that faith is as important as talent…and practice…and discipline. 

            A writer begins with faith that she has a story to tell and that someone will want to hear it.  She begins in faith and must continue in faith.


            She Writers:  Is a dream worthwhile only if you achieve it?



            Visit Marisel’s website at

            Connect with Marisel Vera through her She Writes page:


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Comment by Marisel Vera on July 18, 2012 at 11:59am

Pamela, I feel that if I keep my sight on "the journey," it helps me be grateful for what I have done and encourages me in the present.  It's so easy to fall into the writer envy trap!

Comment by Pamela Williamson on July 6, 2012 at 12:25pm

Great post, Marisel. I love this sentence: "Writing is the only way that I can quiet that urgency inside me that compels me to express myself." So true for me too.

It is so nice to know that I am not alone in my doubts.  

Yesterday was one of those days for me. This line says it all:  "If I quit, I would never have to feel like an imposter when I tell people that I’m a writer and they ask where they can get my book."

Thank you for sharing your doubts and struggle. It encourages those of us who know just how you feel. answer to your question: "Is a dream worthwhile only if you achieve it?" That's a great question! I'd like to think that it is in the pursuit of the dream that makes it all worthwhile. 

Comment by Marisel Vera on July 1, 2012 at 7:30pm

Thanks, Julie.

Comment by Julie Lawson Timmer on June 30, 2012 at 6:17am

Great post, Marisel. Best of luck with your book (and the next ones!)

Comment by Marisel Vera on June 28, 2012 at 8:58pm

Right on, Ava!  I wish that She Writes had a little LIKE symbol just like Facebook so I could go straight down the line and LIKE everyone's comments. 

Comment by Ava Bleu on June 28, 2012 at 12:20pm

I feel ya', Marisel.  I go through a writer identity crisis about once every six months or so.  As I mentioned elsewhere, when I decided I had to write for my own sanity, whether or not I was published, that helped release a lot of anxiety.  But I still have moments when I think my writing is either brilliant or crap.  I am probably not the best person to make that determination for many reasons.  Knowing this, and realizing that by stopping I might possibly be ending something good, I can't take that chance.  I mean, I gonna write anyway, right?  Sharing or not sharing my writing, ultimately, will harm or help no one but me.  So I'm all in.

Comment by Wendy Brown-Baez on June 22, 2011 at 10:04am

It took me 20 years to publish my first book of poetry. During those years, my writing improved with critiques by workshop groups and editors. The final manuscript only retained 2 of the original poems. But there are many ways to get your writing out there without publishing a full length book and that is part of what has been gratifying to me. Blogs, websites, newsletters, open mics and literay salons, literary journals and anthologies...even "notes" on fb with links to your work on your emails to friends! Whether one person reads it or thousands, it builds the writing muscle and builds bridges to the community. Don't we write to communicate?

And of course, now more people are self-publishing than through publishing houses. Never give up on a dream, but you may have to modify your expectations, until you can build up your audience.  Success if when you have touched someone's heart with your words. If we can't get published by a "house", think outside the box....

Wendy's Muse

Comment by Janis Seminara on June 22, 2011 at 3:43am
That doubt monster crept up on me as I was about to jump in the shower. I slid open the glass doors and out of the steam, there it was; what if all this work, sacrifice and even money that you are placing towards publication doesn't pan out? Hit me like ice water on a cold winters morn. No! I answer back, I am on my way, it will happen and until it does I am doing the work I love, living in my bliss. Really, I asked myself, what else would or could I be doing? Your article offered solace for  fellow writers who every so often finds themselves face to face with the doubt monster. It is a part of this writerly life and on those days 'it' shows up, I celebrate the courage I have to keep going! Thanks for the support.
Comment by Helen W. Mallon on June 21, 2011 at 6:58pm

I think writing is sort of like marriage...sometimes you feel the inspiration of angels, sometimes you do it simply because it's what you do.  

And if you give up the dream, you'll NEVER know success, however you define it.


Kelly (hi Kelly) I really like what you said about passion--that quality of pissed-offness brings us back to why we write in the first place. I like the notion that you can mine that out of rejection. Thanks!

Comment by Deborah Batterman on June 20, 2011 at 5:04pm

Hi, Marisel --

I know only too well those crises of faith that nag at us . . .and the beauty of being in a community like She Writes is that we can share them.  I just happened to read an essay on The Rumpus that struck a chord. Here it is . . . 

No One Can Take a Bath for You: Why I Write

Writing, as you point out, is simply something we do. How could it be otherwise?






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