Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My first time

This is a picture of the town I lived and worked in for almost twenty years. Way down there on the left hand side sits the Christian bookstore I used to own. My good friend Patti still owns and operates it today.

It's also the town where I wrote my first book. Who wouldn't when you're surrounded by shelves and shelves of inspiration every day? Great motivation.

It was back in the time when we didn't have the Internet yet. I hadn't even seen the Internet yet. I just printed off my book, single spaced and all and mailed the whole thing off to Barbour hoping for the best.

And I got the best rejection letter I've ever gotten in my life. November 18, 1999.

In part, Tracie Peterson wrote: While your story idea sounds interesting, the word count is too short. Your chapters have an abbreviated, rushed feeling. Work on fleshing out your characters and your story line to give it a multi-dimensional feel. . .

Now how cool was that? Tracie took the time to actually write a regular letter to someone like me who hadn't even a clue what writer's guidelines were or let alone word count.

What that editor did for me is what we as writers or anyone in the publishing field should do--she encouraged me and didn't break my will to write. Although I didn't write any more until many years later, I still dreamt about it.

When I was ready to write again, I pulled out this letter and drew my encouragement to try again from it. I still keep some of my very first rejection letters. (Before the online kind.)

So what 's your story? What was your very first rejection letter like?

20 comments:

Lin said...

I've only entered contests and it was only poetry-the critical remarks weren't helpful at all but I preserved and tried to improve my poems and focus on my non-fiction articles which seems to be my niche for now.

Warren Baldwin said...

I'd like to read your first book.

Also, I'm sending you a radio message I just recorded and will air Thurs or Fri. You previous post inspired it, as you will be able to tell when you hear it. Still having some problem with vocal chords late in the afternoon as you will be able to tell when you hear it, but it is much better than only a few weeks ago.

wb

Chelle Sandell said...

I finaled in the first two contests I'd entered and the editor I was targeting was the finals judge. Even though she rejected me, she had some wonderful suggestions on how to make changes. Very encouraging! Love your first R story!

Jan Cline said...

I agree with your point about editors and/or publishers giving new authors feedback. I dont know how practical it is, but it would be great. Glad you took up writing again!

Krista Phillips said...

My first rejection letter said, "your story has promise, but you need to work on craft."

They were SO SO SO right too!!

Trudy said...

That is a very nice letter, especially for your first one!

I haven't submitted anything yet, so I suppose my first rejection letter is still to come!

Greg C said...

I haven't written anything yet to be published other than a few letters to publications. Back when I went to college my professor gave me really bad feedback on the things I wrote. I took it personal and not only stopped writing, I dropped out of college. Thinking back he only objected to my content and never said anything negative on my style or format. I should have picked up on that and continued to write because we simply had a difference of opinion on certain things. And you know what they say about opinions.....

Kristen Painter said...

Can I just say that picture takes me back? Wow. What a blast from the past!

Jeanette Levellie said...

Terri: This is so cool! What a blessing for you that she took the time to help you.
I have so many that i can't remember my first, but the one that stands out the most is when i sent a children's book to some publishers and one included in with the rejection letter a brochure entitled, "How to Write a Children's Book." ouch!

Now I laugh about it but at the time it was not funny!
Blessed day, Jen

Andrea said...

It was from Guidepost. I wrote a story about the tragic death of my sister and someone took the time to write a peronal note on the letter stating: "Though this does not fit our needs, it is an excellent and well written story." I cling to that comment when I am discouraged. I have not been able to publish the story, but I know in God's time it will be published.
Blessings, andrea

Angie Ledbetter said...

There's nothing like encouragement when we feel down. And I notice you pass it on to others generously. :)

Kasie West said...

That's an awesome first rejection letter. Wow, I'm impressed. My first rejection letter was a form letter and it broke my heart. I was very new in the industry and had no idea what I was doing. LOL

LisaShaw said...

Hi Terri -- wow! Thanks for sharing this with us.

What was the title of your first book?

LauraLee Shaw said...

That is truly awesome. God was working in and through this, and now look at ya!!!! :D

sarah said...

you have been like that editor to me. Thank you for being you, for remembering and for your encouragement. Sarah

Shelley said...

I haven't received a rejection letter - yet. That's because I haven't finished a novel. I'm currently stalled in my work and unsure if I should wait it out, continue and end up needing to remove what I wrote anyway, or just starting something new until the inspiration comes back for the first novel...

Thanks for sharing your rejection letter. It really is a positive one, and definitely offers some encouragement.

Kara said...

This town looks divine! My :)rejection letter was for a contest and the judge was very nice and gave me good direction

The Orange Cat said...

Haven't got any yet, principally because I write short stories and I've written only a few so far.
TIME magazine can bleat all it wants about the effects of the downturn- its your blog which made me realize for the first time that its not just about facts, figures and discussions: there are people at the heart of this mess. Real living people.
No wait, actually I have!
It was an application for an internship at The Economist,the rejection letter was beautifully worded (could it be anything else?) but the essence was the same: better luck next time.

Rose Mary said...

My first rejection letter was from a magazine~just a form letter. But, the next one from them did have some comments on that I appreciated. At least I knew that someone actually read my story!

Nancy said...

Terri - I think my first rejection "letter" was a three inch piece of paper stating that they didn't want my story. I was writing for the Christian magazine market at the time. You had to gear your story for a specific target, so once rejected, it was put in the finished writing stack. I finally got a nice letter like yours. Never made it to publication, but there's still time.