Like Mother, Like Son

March 7, 2013 in Parenting

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.

Have desk, will write

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.

BasketBall - score

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.

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Janine Huldie March 7, 2013 at 10:17 am

Oh wonderful and so happy for your son. Love how you are learning a lesson from him though :) :)


ohboymom March 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm

You are right – learning the lesson from him was the best part. :)


Sharon Greenthal March 7, 2013 at 10:25 am

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing our kids succeed after trying and failing. You’d think it would be better to have them ALWAYS make the team, and while it might be true that it’s easier, it’s so much more satisfying to get it right after getting it wrong. You too – you’ll find your agent – don’t give up!!!


ohboymom March 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm

You are right Sharon — seeing our kids triumph over a failure is huge and no, I won’t give up, I promise! Thanks so much for reading and commenting…


Cyndi March 7, 2013 at 11:13 am

Emily – the fact that you have this written and you’re soliciting agents is momentous!! You’re tacobliss!! So, I think yes, follow your son’s example and keep going. Your writing – going by your blog – is a rare form of excellence and I always walk away thinking, “she said that so eloquently.” Never, ever put your fate in the hands of another person. Your contributions and potential is too important. :)


ohboymom March 7, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Cyndi, I don’t know what thrills me more — the fact that you called me “tacobliss” or that my blog/writing was a “rare form of excellence.” I SO appreciate your compliments and pep talk. It means a lot coming from someone whose creative work I admire so very much! You rock!


Susan Bonifant March 7, 2013 at 11:30 am

My son, a sports writer pieced together part time “stringer” positions for two years before he got a byline and a staff position at a sizeable paper . I know too well, how that example has kept me going through the submission process for my novel. They do listen after all, it appears. Good luck and don’t give up – EVER.


ohboymom March 7, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Thanks so much for sharing that with me and no, I won’t give up. Thanks for reading and commenting!


Ellen Dolgen March 7, 2013 at 12:20 pm

It’s so wonderful that our children teach us things every day! It’s always a surprise but really, I guess we shouldn’t be so surprised. And best of luck on your memoir!


ohboymom March 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Thank you Ellen and yes, it is wonderful to learn from our kids and you’re right, we shouldn’t be surprised, but gratified that maybe we’re doing something right as parents.:)


Risa March 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm

My son, over 30 now, called when I was frustrated with a project I was working on. He proceeded to give me a really great pep talk–how I always take on new challenges and try new things, even if they don’t always work out, there’s something gained. I tell ya, having grown-up sons can be a never-ending source of wonder! Keep plugging away–the right person is out there for your book, I’m sure!


ohboymom March 7, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Thanks Risa and I love hearing about how your son gave you a pep talk. My kids continue to surprise me too. And I WILL keep trying for an agent! Thanks for reading and commenting…


Beverly Diehl March 7, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Congrats – to your son, now may your experience be similar – after rejection, success.

It’s hard, I know from bitter experience. Though we all KNOW – in our heads – that rejection is part of the writing game, every time I get one I get REALLY down.

And then, a few days or weeks later, I write more stuff. :-)


ohboymom March 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm

You are right — getting back on that horse after falling off is the best remedy for rejection. Thanks for reading and commenting!


Jennifer Comet Wagner March 7, 2013 at 1:45 pm

What a great story. And you should definitely keep trying. Don’t forget, there is always self-publishing.


ohboymom March 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Thanks and yes, I’ve definitely got self-publishing as my back-up plan. I appreciate you reading and commenting!


Roshni March 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm

wonderful news about your son! Congratulations to him!! And, you said it so well about sometimes our children teaching us!! I just know that there is a better literary agent out there who will appreciate your memoir for all that it’s worth!!


ohboymom March 7, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Thanks for your vote of confidence Roshni – I do hope you’re right! In the meantime, I’ll channel all of you supportive bloggers to keep me moving forward.


Carpool Goddess March 7, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Kudos to your son! And what a wonderful lesson you both learned. I love hearing stories like this :)


Lois Alter Mark March 7, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Great post. Love when kids teach us the lesson — although you both are very inspiring role models! And when your book does get published, which it will, I can’t wait to read it!


ohboymom March 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Thanks and don’t worry, when (notice I didn’t say “if”) the book does get published, I promise the Gen Fab group will be the first to know! :)


Stephanie @ Mommy, for real. March 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm

This was an awesome post, Emily. You know I relate to your agent/query frustrations. I think it shows a lot of courage and perspective for you to tie this into your son’s experience, and hold yourself to the same standards you hold him for coping with disappointment and being optimistic that the right thing will come along. Just like the right team “found” him, the right agent will “find” you. Beautiful.


ohboymom March 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Thanks so much Stephanie – I hope you’re right about an agent “finding” me. I know I have to be patient and persistent!


Abigail March 8, 2013 at 1:02 am

I’m sure you will find the right agent for your memoir. I can imagine how disappointing it was to receive all that apparent interest only to be turned down though.


Melanie Chisnall March 8, 2013 at 4:51 am

Emily, that’s awesome! Congrats to your son, and to you for making it that for with a query. Rejection is horrible, in fact my editor didn’t publish an article I wrote this week because it wasn’t relatable enough to parents of children. I’m not a mom, but I gave it a bash. I really thought I was capable of writing anything. Sucky way to start Friday, but I am going to pull my chin up after reading your post and keep going. Live and learn I guess. Happy weekend. :)


ohboymom March 8, 2013 at 8:02 am

Glad my post helped you to keep your chin up despite having a tough go with that article. You’ll get it! Have a great weekend too. :)


clark March 8, 2013 at 4:56 am

(viewing it as a continuum helps me), getting rejected by an actual agent is undeniably further along the path (to ‘success’) than is not getting rejected by an agent because none will respond. I have not even gotten close to the point of having something to submit to someone, but as long as I keep hanging out with you writer-types, I won’t be surprised if I do.
It seems to me that you have clearly moved along the road today the end goal.


ohboymom March 8, 2013 at 8:00 am

I agree that “hanging out” with writer-types is a huge support and will help us ALL reach our goals!


Julie DeNeen March 12, 2013 at 4:21 pm

GREAT post. I just got off the phone with a published author (someone who’s written both fiction and non-fiction plus signed a six figure book deal) and she said the best piece of advice she ever got was, “No story is unfixable.” Everyone gets to the point where they want to throw their manuscript away, but it’s an illusion. EVERY story can be fixed into something readable and memorable.

Tell yourself that after each rejection. Your story is worth telling – keep at it!


ohboymom March 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Thanks Julie – that actually gives me hope. I WILL tell myself that mantra after each rejection. I’m not giving up!


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