When you're done

Not everyone knows my personal story of writing, rejections, and self-publication. I know a lot of people are posting their stories right now, and most probably have a better way to tell it, but basically, I ended up getting to a point where I was just done.

Almost five years ago, I started writing again. It was a glorious day, a glorious time for me as I began to soak books up again (something I hadn't done in years) and words came to me all the time. But unbeknownst to me (and many other newbies), regardless of how ready I felt, it wasn't close to where I really was.

Fast forward a few years. I had two MSs under my belt, two more half-written. It had been approximately three years. Query responses beyond the form were far and few between. I was very frustrated. 

Then, Lovemuffin got sick. And boy was he sick. And boy did that change everything. The darkness that surrounded our house (those of you who've followed me for a few years will remember me speaking of this) was insane. I can't even explain the horrible sadness, the despair... he went through a time of crazy (understandable) fear and suicidal thoughts and a whole lot of other stuff. The girls and I weren't sure what to do... it was one of those situations where we were at a loss... we just tread carefully, all the time... and tried to get by.

Right before this, I'd begun to write a new story. I had the two main characters in my head (a guy and a girl), the feel of the whole thing (loss, hopelessness), along with the main issue--the boy was going to have some sort of issue with his blood (something you don't see often in YA books).

I did not speak of the "issue" he was going to have with anyone. I was in my own bubble of words and feelings and Jonas and Hattie, and then, Lovemuffin got sick. With a blood disease. And it tore our lives apart for a couple of months. And the Lord came to us and showed us His love like never before and we saw His light and His strength and that He was the answer to everything Lovemuffin was going through, and ultimately, we began to expect and claim it was HIS fight to fight. (Which He did. And of course, Lovemuffin's sickness was overcome.)

The reason I bring this up is, I did not realize until months after THAT that I'd already planned for Jonas to have a blood disease, and then Lovemuffin had one. I didn't realize that I'd never told him this, either. Yet, I'd gotten to the point, truly, in those three-ish years where I was done. It wasn't worth the time, the wondering, the trying constantly, the continual hope that someone would feel my characters deserved the time of day. 

I'd had it. I was done. I was still recovering from those three months that felt like a decade of emotions. 

And then, a friend emailed me. A friend I'd never met in person, but had come to be close to simply by emails and texts and whatnot. And she said something along the lines of "I don't know where you're at with writing anymore, but there's this contest..."

It was one of the Secret Agent ones by Authoress. And so, I re-read that email, and thought about it. And I was done. I was done trying. I was done trying to force things. So I told the Lord, okay, if something comes out of this, then it means you want me to write. If nothing does, then I'm done. I can't handle it anymore. It hurts too much.

Well, I won part of the contest: the agent requested a partial. Then, months later, the full. By the time I received my "answer"--it had been an entire year, and the answer was... no thanks, there's issues with the plot.

I was devastated, but at the same time, not. I knew that that book was going to eventually be something. I also knew that, since it HAD been requested, I was still supposed to write.

I went back to Hattie and Jonas. I opened documents and journals up. I read words I hadn't read in over a year and a half; and I cannot even explain my amazement as everything came together and I realized that everything Jonas was dealing with was what Lovemuffin had had. His sickness, his symptoms... suddenly not only did I have the feel of it on the page, I had the facts. The concrete, emotional feelings, the frustration, the anger, the signs of things happening in the body. It was as if I'd gone to a class on it. I was an expert now.

Am I saying the Lord "gave" that to Lovemuffin? No. Absolutely not. Lovemuffin was going through stuff that I'm not at liberty to say here, but ultimately, God cleared up his confusion on the truth of His word and that's all it took for him to be able to stand on it and say I won't accept this sickness--it's not Your plan for my life.

Which brings me to close to where we are now. Except I had to query this book, this story of Jonas and Hattie, this idea that attached itself to my heart. And I knew, ultimately, in the back of my mind the whole time, that it wasn't my story to tell. That this was going to go where it was going to go where it was going to go, and I was simply along for the ride.

Enter a few more months. I began to receive emails about how the writing was great, but no one was interested in it. You have to understand, the closest explanation I have for Pity Isn't An Option is "contemporary with a dystopian bent", because really, there's a dystopian feel to it with certain elements, but not enough to count. So I was stuck in this random, in-between category deal, and no one wanted to deal with it.

Again. Done. But not in the way that you'd think I was. Because I knew that it was supposed to be sent out into the world. I knew it was time.

And that's how the process of self-publication began.

**Special shout-out to Lovemuffin: Happy Birthday, my love!!!!


Emily Steele said...

Loved it, Jessica. So glad you're following your passion--and especially glad your love's sickness was overcome. Wishing you all the best.

Anne Gallagher said...

That's how I felt too. I'd gotten "The writing's great, but we're full up now until 2015." Self-publishing was the only option.

Happy Birthday, LoveMuffin!

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

Thanks, Emily! I'm sure you know how some stories end up taking on a life of their own and are no longer yours anymore!!! :)

Anne, yes, you get it. And, pardon the pun here, but that's the whole point of self/indie pubbing... pity... isn't the option. (If it were, we'd all be wallowing around feeling sorry for ourselves and nothing would get done!)

I will tell Lovemuffin you sent birthday wishes!

Be blessed, guys!

Katrina L. Lantz said...

What a journey you've had! Your fortitude and perseverance are inspiring, Jessica! Also, off topic, just noticed your new cover goes PERFECTLY with your blog background. Yay!

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

Oh, thanks Katrina! He has perfect timing for everything... it's so hard to allow ourselves to rest in it at times (we want to rush rush rush and make things happen) but when we do, it's so nice! Sometimes it takes looking back to see how He was making everything work together!

Regarding the birds... YES! I love birds, and they're a mini-theme in PIAO... so there you go. (It's also the background on my twitter page!) :D


Anita said...

I agree with Katrina, that it's been quite a journey for you and your husband. But just think... you're so young and have got much more ground to cover. I'm praying that it's all up hill!!!

Best wishes with the book!

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

Oh it is all uphill, Anita! Looking UP to ZION! :) Thanks for the wishes! :)