Double Trouble: Rejection and Infertility in Writing and Life
When I got my agent in 2010, I believed I was on a (quick) path to my publishing dreams. That same year, my husband and I decided to start a family. Everything felt right. I was poised for publishing success and soon we’d have a child or two to add to our lives.
When the book didn’t sell right away, I told myself it would eventually. When I didn’t get pregnant right away, I didn’t worry too much about it. Everyone said these things take time.
When my agent told me she was taking the book off active submission in 2011, I was disappointed, but I was working on another book. I felt sure success would follow. We sought our first appointment with my doctor that year and pursued more aggressive means to conceive. I still felt sure pregnancy was right around the corner. I had friends who had been through various stages of infertility. They assured me things would progress.
2012 brought an early miscarriage. My doctor said this was a good sign, even in the midst of that pain. Now we knew I could get pregnant. We made the decision to pursue in vitro fertilization after wrestling with our personal beliefs and emotions. I continued to write through this season. Friends and family were having kids. Writers I knew were getting published. Our four rounds of IVF resulted in no pregnancies.
I sent a new manuscript to my agent at the beginning of 2013, a dystopian novel along the lines of those so popular at the time. After reading it closely and getting an outside opinion, she informed me she didn’t think she could sell it at this time. Editors were ready to see something new, not more dystopian. She encouraged me to take some time and examine what books were on the shelves. She also left the option of staying with her or pursuing another path to publication up to me.
It was time for some soul-searching. I was feeling the heavy hand of rejection, and it felt like my body was agreeing, too. Did I really want to be a writer? Did I really want to be a mother? Was I willing to consider new paths to both of these goals? Ultimately, I decided I still liked my agent’s vision for my work. I chose to stay with her and pitched a new idea.
In early 2014, I sent my new middle grade mystery to my agent. I felt certain THIS was THE book. She loved it and submitted right away. I decided to take some time off from pursuing pregnancy in the medical community and look at more natural ways to figure out what was going on. I felt hopeful once again that things were moving in the right direction.
Then the rejections started rolling in. Many of them were encouraging. The editors loved the characters. The idea was unique. But none jumped at the opportunity to add this story to their list. I was disappointed again not to have that immediate success. My agent has continued to submit the book. I’m hopeful someone will pick it up in 2015, but I now know I must be in this writing gig for the long haul, whether it takes another five, ten or twenty years. In the meantime, we’ve also started the process of adoption.
The last five years haven’t been easy in writing or life, but they haven’t been devoid of joy, either. I have a great support system around me, beginning with my husband, friends and family who believe in what I’m doing, even if I haven’t published a book yet. I have a niece and nephews who are a huge part of my life. I have a deep belief in my faith, that God knows my disappointments and my desires, and that ultimately, through these challenges, He is working all things for good.
These are the things that bring me back to my desk, that keep me committed to my agent and the writing life, and that encourage me to pursue life to its fullest, even when it doesn’t look as I’d imagined.
Kimberly Mitchell is pursuing writing and life in Northwest Arkansas. When she’s not writing middle grade fiction or teaching preschool fitness, she’s cheering on the Razorbacks, playing soccer, and scheming ways to travel the world. Follow her on Twitter @KSMitch17 and check out her blog for updates on all of the above.