Losing is key to personal growth, character building, and even success. I think without our losses, it’s impossible to taste victory. Imagine if there were no such thing as tears. Imagine a world without pain, without struggle, without rejection, without losing. While this might sound like Utopia or maybe even some old Star Trek episode, there’s a sense of wrongness to it. Without pain, we’d never grow, and without growth we can’t fully appreciate the sweetness of winning.
My Failure To Create Another Human
I didn’t write about this initially, because it’s taken me time to work up the courage. I needed to feel the pain. Walk through the pain. Let myself cry. Last year was a very difficult year. January 2018 began with my step-dad finally passing away from the stroke he never healed from. The same week, I received the worst phone call an expecting mother can ever receive from the genetic counselor. I learned that the life growing inside me was abnormal. The baby had Trisomy 21 (T21), otherwise known as Down syndrome. Based on the neck measurement, the baby also had a likely heart condition. On top of this, since the moment my husband and I conceived, I had suffered with severe, contraction-like cramps. They were a daily occurrence that went on for hours upon hours at a time, and yet no bleeding.
The doctors speculated that the body knew the fetus was growing abnormally. Maybe my body was trying to end things naturally? Unfortunately, my body did not pass our daughter, organically like I would’ve preferred. At 13-weeks, we had to make a decision on what to do. Do I try and sit through 8 hours of debilitating stomach pains for another 7 to 8 months and hope for the best? Would my body even carry the baby to term? After endless hours of research, we discovered the extent of many complications that come with Downs. We had no idea. We didn’t know how serious of a condition our daughter, who we named Hope, would be born with. Finally, we made the difficult decision to terminate for medical reasons.
I refrained from sharing our story because I didn’t want the judgment. It’s my personal belief that we did the right thing and made the right decision. Still, it was the hardest choice we’ve both ever faced. Other couples would have chosen a different path. As a woman, it’s my body, and my decision. I made the best decision for me and my family.
Following the medical termination, we got pregnant 4 more times in a matter of a year and they all ended in early miscarriage. Going through this has made me appreciate my 3.5-year-old daughter who we had naturally. At least I managed to fertilize one good egg.
My Failure As A Writer
The entire time I was going through my miscarriages, I was revising my second manuscript and querying agents. I entered every Twitter pitch contest you can think of, (#PitMad, #AdPit, #DVPit) only to get rejected in the same way my body was rejecting me.
Juxtapose this with others who received tons of likes that lead to offers. But, comparison is the quickest road to depression. I attended several writing conferences, made good connections with other writers and editors, and pitched to agents. But all that resulted in was more rejection.
Like many other writers, I entered Pitch Wars this past year and didn’t even get requests for more pages. Before that, I entered Revise & Resubmit, otherwise known as #RevPit, and again no one requested more pages.
A Small Win At Last: Landing An Agent
My fourth miscarriage occurred just last month, right around Christmas. Just when I thought I couldn’t feel worse, I received the email I’d been waiting for most of my writing life. It was an offer for representation. But, I’m a true believer in staying humble about it. Because getting an agent is just the beginning.
I didn’t tweet about it or post anything on any social media site until two days ago, almost a full month after I signed. It was mostly bitter-sweet, as I was still grieving another loss while also coming to terms with the fact that I had taken an important step forward in my writing career.
The Bottom Line:
I’m now writing my third manuscript and revising my second via agent notes. Regardless, you won’t hear me “Babe Ruth” it. While some people can boast that they’re going to “knock it out of the park,” I’ll pass on being overconfident. You won’t hear me say, “When I’m a New York Times bestselling author…”
Ultimately the road to getting published is arduous. Even getting picked up by one of the big 5, doesn’t guarantee uber success. It’s ultimately about timing, among other random factors, and not based just solely on the content or quality of the story written.
My favorite quote by Frank Ocean puts it best: “Work hard in silence, let success be your noise.”
I believe personal pain has made me appreciate the small victories. Losing has made me grateful for what I do have, and when I win after a long and hard fought battle, it feels kind of nice. But regardless if losing or winning, I’m a believer in remaining level-headed. If my work “succeeds,” whatever that means, then as Frank says, that’s enough noise. Because at the end of the day, I’d rather let my work speak for itself.
My writing journey has just begun. Still, I know invariably that some publishers will reject me and some readers will show little if any interest in my work. I’m not in control over who likes my manuscript. I’m not in control over whether or not I end up having another handful of miscarriages.
My aim is to grow as a writer and get better. That’s all I can hope for, that and to be the best mom to my little 3.5-year-old, who reminds me each and every day that miracles really do happen.