by Felicia Ferguson
(1 Corinthians 15:58, NKJV)
I opened my email and there it was: my fifteenth “no.” I had heeded editors’ advice and reworked the whole manuscript from previous pitches. I had publishing credentials and was building my platform. I had followed the agent’s proposal guidelines perfectly. As the latest rejection read, I did “everything right.” Yet the project remained a no.
As a goal-oriented, type A (albeit introverted) writer, I believed doing everything right should result in a request for a full manuscript or an offer of representation. But as the rejections mounted, perseverance and steadfastness felt more like trying to roll a boulder uphill. As I stared at the latest rejection, I wanted to give up. Doubt tugged at my confidence in the calling to write. What more did I need to do to prove I was steadfast and persevering through trials?
At what point is a no from an agent actually a no from God? Is it the tenth? The fifteenth? The hundredth?
My prayer partner helped me to open my heart to the truth. She pointed out that in my yearning to be traditionally published, I was striving, not persevering. And God, being the loving father he is, was using it to refine me for the work he has for me to do now. I began to understand the “no’s” were his way of getting me to stop pursuing a completed project and allow it the time it needed to incubate.
As I contemplated her words, peace came like a breath of air after a fresh snowfall. Clear, pure, revitalizing. Burnout, fatigue, and stress all lifted away. New characters clamored in my head and asked me to tell their stories. And in taking on this new God-planted work, I realized I was not giving up. I was pivoting.
So I have done just that. I’ve emailed myself one final copy of the current manuscript, removed it from my hard drive, and decided to move forward, trusting that in God’s perfect timing the “no’s” will become a “yes.”
That, I believe, is true steadfastness and perseverance.
Lord, help us to hear your truth and heed your guidance in our struggles and keep us focused on the work you’ve called us to do. Amen