Forgive Me, For I Have Doubted
Contributor
Written by
Marisel Vera
June 2011
Contributor
Written by
Marisel Vera
June 2011

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 www.mariselvera.com

            Connect with Marisel Vera through her She Writes page:

          http://www.shewrites.com/profile/MariselVera

 

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Comments
  • yes, Marisel, brave of you to confess your horrors and doubts.  If you can believe the following, I've been an author all my life with 12 books--novels, inc. mysteries, and medical nonfiction--published by major and smaller publishers, plus short work in 200 periodicals and anthologies.  But I cannot YET get an agent or an editor interested to read ms. of my 13th book, HOW SHE SAVED HER LIFE,  a heroine-starting-over novel set in Berkshires, Mass.  I began it during my M.A.-Writing program, and four chapters already appeared in North Atlantic Review.  I should have known when I re-located away from Manhattan to New Hampshire that my chances to meet editors would be slim(mer).  Hope you can find a publisher.  Let us know what happens.

  • Karen Burns

    Writers gotta write.  That's all there is to it.

  • Anand Querying

    Published or no, succumbing to such fear is to surrender part of our soul.  Yay for you for seeing your way through!

  • Jennifer L. Weber

    Thank you for this beautiful article, Marisel. Not only must we have faith that we have a story to tell and that someone will want to read it, but we must never forget that we are the only ones who can tell our own unique story the way it should be told. Being published is a dearly-held dream, but writing what we MUST write is its own reward.

  • Beth Allen

    I scribble in notebooks, and Google docs, after work and on weekends, with fond hopes that when retirement happens in a few years I will finally get my book finished. It's the dream that keeps me going, seeing the words that are in my head in a notebook or a titled file on my computer.

     

    Thanks for sharing this. It helped keep my dream alive. Good luck with yours.

  • Atiya

    Thank you so much for posting this.
    I needed to hear (read) this from a writer.

  • Thanks for this honest post, Marisel. At first we question if we could write, really write; then when we write, we question if we'll get published; then when we get published, we question if the sales would be good ... then we question if our next book would sail or sink ...

    You're right, Marisel, we are writers and we'll write. Our dreams are precious because of our faith.

  • Anna Leahy

    Thanks for this post. I am revising my novel manuscript right now. Sometimes I think about how much time I've invested and how that's not what catches an agent's attention. I'm revising, in part, because the one agent who has seen and rejected the manuscript said good things about it and offered a suggestion that made sense to me. I write and publish other work, but a novel is a different beast, isn't it?

  • June O\'Hara

    Marisel, I'm 45 and have been writing my humorous memoir for many years. Sometimes I'm afraid I'll run out of time before it's published. Reading that you've had a similar fear made me feel less alone. Thank you for that.

  • Elena Schwolsky

    Thanks for this thoughtful and honest post, Marisel.  As an older writer with just one published essay and a memoir in progress, I often ask myself the same questions.  A wise woman writer-friend, older than me, once shared her approach to the "why do I write if I may never get published" dilemma.  She had a drawer in her desk which held all of her stories--tales of her Scandinavian farm family, her early years in New York City, her life as a mother and worker.  When she got discouraged, she thought of the joy her family would feel when they opened that drawer and read her stories--and discovered her as a writer.  That was enough to keep her going.  And on a bad day it gets me started--and keeps my own drawer expanding with new writing.

  • Kim Sisto Robinson

    ~~I think many of us are in the same boat.  The rejections...the self doubt.  But the one who endures is the one who will be published.  The one who keeps going is the one who will have her voice heard.  Yes!  I believe this to be true!

     

    Keep writing!!!! 

  • Carol Apple

    I am so touched by this post, especially the part about sacrificing little things because you have to write. I have said those very words to my husband, my kids, my church, and my friends, and felt a little twinge of guilt about it. Am I just indulging myself? I wonder. Because, although I would like to get published someday, that's not really why I have to write.... if I go without doing it for too long a time - say 24 hours - get fidgety and impatient and need to be alone with my notebook or laptop. Thanks for your honesty. Your post is well written and rings true.

  • Love Babz

    Sister,

    A glorious faith lesson for us all. It doesn't matter what the dream...writing, cooking, parenting, singing, whatever, the message is the same, keep the faith.  You are talking about more than your own experience, I hope you know that.  Your voice is a lovely tool and a light for all of us to lovingly bask in.  I remain inspired.

  • Joshunda Sanders

    Marisel, this is wonderful. Congratulations to you for your persistence in pursuit of your dreams.

    I believe that what you write is true, that as writers, mostly all we have is our faith in the work and nothing else can deter us from the pursuit of that faith. I call people who crap on that faith, those dreams and that persistence dreamkillers and I do my best to stay away from them because I believe that they feed the inner critic, the voice of doubt that would have me give up because my version of being a successful writer (with or without a published book) doesn't fit neatly into their categorization of what a "real writer" is. That said, I believe all dreams are worthwhile pursuits, though there is a fine line between pursuit and surrender. In other words, we can only do so much as human beings in any given day. Knowing that you have a dream and you intend to write your heart out to make it become reality is a beautiful thing. But at some point, you have to surrender to the fact that reality may not look the way you want it to, at least, not on your time table.

  • ain.zulkefli

    If I Bring You Roses, is that your book? oh God. i would love to read it :)

  • Sabine A.Reed

    Well said! We all have moments of doubts. What if we never make it? But you fail only when you give up. I live in Bangladesh. I have never taken a writing class or attended a writing workshop. I wrote for six years before my debut novel The Black Orb was picked up by Uncial Press. It's a step in the right direction. If you don't give up, you will make your dreams come true.

  • Hi Marisel - it was only two nights ago that my daughter (8) looked at me earnestly and said, "Mom, what is your dream and have you achieved it?" I could have taken the easy way out, but when one speaks such a key question from the heart that is no time for PC. So, I answered, "No, I have not. I want to be able to work here and write all day long." If you are called to write, and you know that in your heart, than it is because you have something to say the world needs to hear. It may not be this book, or the next even, but the words will arrive when it is time for them. We all feel it Marisel, keep forging on!

  • Thank you for the courage to expose your heart by posting on such a personal issue, Marisel. Keep writing, please, knowing that if your heart's got the desire to create, then there must be a reason for it in The Great Plan. Anne Frank died at Auschwitz without any idea of the far-reaching impact of her humble, yet socially significant diary.

    And, here's an article about others who were deceased by the time their work was accepted for publication:  http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/aug/28/mystery-adds-to-writers-appeal/print/

    Regarding the sexism accusation, I just finished changing the gender of the protagonist in my second screenplay. Same basic character, same family, same job, same setting, etc., but the other gender. I know it would be a lot of work, but aren't you curious to see whether the reaction of publishers would change in response to an equally sexist woman instead of a man?

    Peace and all good

  • Widdershins

    To not write is to not dream. Achieving the end result is just another breath.

  • Yejide Kilanko

    Thanks Marisel for this post. I took some time to think about your question and  here is my take.

    One of my dreams is to travel around the world and see new sights. Australia is my number one dream destination. With life, work and writing to do, there are days when I look at planes up high in the sky and wonder..will I ever be able to just tie up everything in a handkerchief on a pole and just go?

    But the truth is that the dream of travelling somehow colours my long tedious days. Somehow, I am able to convince myself that I am just one more day closer to seeing the skyline of Sydney.  So while my hands are busy doing all the mundane tasks that need to be done, in my head, I am strolling in Australia with a jolly kangaroo who is hopping alongside.

    Really, how exciting would our lives be if we only dared to entertain dreams we can easily achieve?

  • Jennifer O.

    Writing words to live by!

     

    "I know you’ll understand that faith is as important as talent…and practice…and discipline."

     

    Wonderful post.

  • Karen Banes

    Needed to read this today. My problem with my novel right now is actually "What if I never finish?' but I've had the "What if I never get published?" days too. A big step for me was just getting something published. My short stories and articles make me a published writer. Now it's just a case of moving that onwards to published novelist. As you say, how can you encourage your children to follow their dreams if you give up on your own?

  • Debbie Dillon

    That same question sort of hit me between the eyes one day, as well.  That's the day I realized that I would take control over my writing career and self publish.  I still haven't given up completely on the traditional publishing method, but for now, self publishing fits me well for my current projects.

    Great post!