Thursday, October 11, 2012

See, that's where you are wrong

I tell you what, if you want to be humbled (and who doesn't love a good humbling?), write a book.

I feel like running out and writing a letter to every author I've ever read, much less loved, and thanking them a million times over for the hard work they put into getting that book published.  I had NO idea. 

See, I made up this arbitrary goal in my head that I would send out as many query letters and proposals as I could before Rip's birthday this year.  So far I've sent around 40.  For what it's worth, I like sending out proposals a lot more than sending out query letters.  To me, a query letter is kind of like showing someone your hand and asking them if they think you are attractive...which is great if you were lucky enough to be born with long fingers and have the time to run out and get manicures, but if you are like me and have a tendency towards man hands and usually have some kind of gunk under your nails...well, you get the idea.

So to this point I've gotten about ten rejections, all of which have been fairly nice and some really helpful.  But the other night I got one that wasn't.  The overall tone of the letter was so condescending I could practically feel her patting my head through the entire thing.  Basically, she said there were a million books on grief and nobody was going to benefit from reading my crummy little story.  That everybody grieves in their own way and my talking about what helped me was helping nobody but myself. That you can't help someone else survive.

I've got to admit, it threw me for a few days.  Rejection isn't my favorite (as if it is someone else's), but I really started to think that maybe she was right.  I mean, everyone does grieve differently.  My story is my own, I can't tell someone else's story, I don't know how to tell someone else to get through their loss.

I stopped sending queries and proposals, decided it wasn't meant to be.

 But see, the first line of her response was "I've never lost a child". 

She is right, there are a million books on grief.  She is right, everyone grieves in their own way. But as for helping someone else survive, see lady, that's where you are wrong.

After we lost Rip I needed someone to tell me how to get through the days, weeks, and months that followed.  There could have been 500 books on grief, but if they had to do with losing a child and finding hope and strength and love and laughter...I would have ready every single one of them.  Because knowing that one person can do it means that just maybe you can too, and if more than one person can do it, all the better.

So, today I send out three more queries, gunky fingernails and all. 


  1. I think knowing that others have gotten through the loss of a child and continued to live, learned to smile again, found joy in the their lives again is what has gotten me through the last 5 years. Even if they grieve differently, even if their lives were different than mine, even if their families looked different. Just knowing that others lived through it and found a way to find peace on some level and to allow the memory of their child continue on meant and still means the world to me.

  2. Absolutely. I agree with you completely.

    The woman who wrote you that particular rejection letter just doesn't get it. She's likely the who would pat you on the head and tell you you're young and you'll go on to have another baby. She would compare your loss to that time her dog died, then smugly comfort herself on her ability to help you.

    Knowing how someone else survived the loss of their baby is helpful, even if it's not how you choose to handle it. BLMs are like mystical unicorns- you don't believe they exist until you see them, you know?

  3. Anne, I am so saddened by what that woman said. Does she have a child at all?? Even if she (has a heart and soul) has never lost a child personally, surely she can identify with the magnitude of the situation. Your story has helped and will continue to help and inspire women, no matter what their situation. Keep up the good work my friend! You inspire me daily.

  4. Om, she's evil. First of all, I'm speaking for all women, not just moms, we LOVE to read other people's stories. It's our thing. We weep and laugh along with characters imagined or real as though they are our own mothers and friends. I can't even believe she said no one could learn from it. You're an inspiration to everyone Anne. You found a way to survive something that I didn't think was possible and despite your burden of grief you still find a way to be Gracie's mama every single day. That is every bit as inspiring as Teresa Giudice's third cookbook :). One of my favorite books is about the hiker who was trapped in a canyon and had to cut off his own arm to survive. I can GUARANTEE you I will never be anywhere near this scenario but I still learned from his attitude and will to conquer an inevitable demise. This is also true of you with Rip's Story. Don't give up Anne. We love you!

  5. We've never met, but I follow your blog because you're a great writer with much to share. Isn't that what a book is? A story...good woods...universal feelings. Don't give up!

  6. Anne, I absolutely think you should continue sending proposals. Your gift for writing is something that isn't a dime a dozen (and I do a lot of reading). There are so many good authors that were turned down over and over before finding a publisher that would give them a chance and then, BAM! overnight success. Like the woman who sent you the gentle (ahem - sarcasm is hard to convey in print) rejection, I have not lost a child. But I would read your book in a heartbeat. I have experienced other losses, and I do have children so a part of me can sympathize, if not empathize with your story. Each rejection is just steering you onward to the one that will say "yes." And I can't wait! You can go ahead and put me down for a pre-order. We'll be praying for you!

  7. Wow. I'm a 20 something with my husband, no children, our two crazy dogs and probably just plain far from your book rejector's desired demographic. I however, love reading your blog and firmly agree wtih hughtube's response, "Isn't that what a book is? A story...good woods...universal feelings. Don't give up!" You are very inspiring and I'm pulling for you!

  8. Hi Anne, I tried to find a way to email you, but there isn't a link on your blog. I stumbled across your blog today, and I'm moved. I work for a small publishing house and I'd love to talk to you about what we do. Send me an email if you'd like to talk more.

  9. Anne, Wanted to send you this note to let you know that I also stumbled upon your blog from facebook. I have read it for a few months now and when I saw you and your sweet Gracie at the park a few weeks ago I wanted to hug you. (but figured that may have been awkward and I would have probably burst into tears!) I know we don't know one another well, but I am so impressed with your grace, dignity and ability to find good still on this Earth after Rip's passing. As a mom, I can only imagine the heartache you feel. Your sweet boy is thought of often, and through your writing he continues to be remembered...even by people who never met him! So trudge on girl and remember us when you become Published Author Anne! Meredith

  10. Keep at it, Anne. I'm confident it will happen.