Last week, I had one of those days that started off great, really great in fact.
I had just started to query literary agents to represent me for my memoir and sent out a few letters on Tuesday afternoon. When I woke up the next morning, there was an email from one of the agents. He said he had been seeking a project just like mine and asked to see my proposal.
I was giddy and hopeful. I proofread my proposal one more time and immediately emailed it to him. A few hours later, he asked for a chapter that appeared later in the book. (The proposal only contained Chapter one).
His quick response time, coupled with his enthusiasm, made me think, I’ve got an agent!
Except two hours later, he rejected me.
Although he said I was a “strong writer” whose voice “read beautifully,” he said my voice did not have the distinctiveness he was looking for.
And just like that, my balloon of joy deflated. Wah waaaaaahhh….
Coincidentally, one of my dudes had a disappointing day that week too. He had tried out for a travel basketball team that he had played on the year before and assumed he’d make it again.
But, he didn’t.
Not only was he upset, but I was afraid his confidence would evaporate in one fell swoop.
I tried to reassure him that he was likely cut because the coach didn’t want to put a kid on his team recovering from a knee injury. I reminded him that he didn’t particularly like this coach. And, that this coach was inexperienced. And played favorites. Finally, I said:
“This is a blessing in disguise! Now you can find a better team to play on!”
Of course, inside I was a bit freaked. What if every coach out there didn’t want the kid with the knee brace, even if he was 6 foot 6?
Two days later, my son mustered the energy and guts to tryout for another team. It’s very difficult to join a new travel team at the high school level because most of these teams have been established for a few years, and may only lose a few players each year. There were over 40 kids at this tryout vying for the one or two open spots. And guess who was the only kid, knee brace and all, who made the team?
I don’t know if my son found the right team or the right team found him. Either way, this opportunity felt like destiny: The coach had experience. The other teammates were supportive and high-fiving with him. Most of all, the coach believed in my son and wanted him on his team.
My son could have easily given up and not tried out again. I know that feeling. I was so ready to take my manuscript and toss it in the trash and never try to query another agent again. But, after seeing my son pick himself up, brush off the disappointment, and try even harder, I know I owe it to myself to do the same.
I know I’m supposed to be the role model, but in this case, my son was a model for me of perseverance and courage. Maybe the phrase needs to be changed to: Like son, like mother.