Last week, while vacationing with my family in Delaware, I received an e-mail response from a publisher. I took a deep breath, prepared myself for a rejection. The e-mail said:
"Thank you for your submission of A Bend in the Willow, and thank you for your patience while our team evaluated the project. I've heard back from my team now and will share some of their comments with you...
The story hooked the readers from page one and had them reading well into the night. The story was intriguing, well-written, and the plot and characters well-developed.
On the back of this, the team is recommending the book for contract." I had to read it three times before I believed it.
They sent me a 12-page contract. My son, a lawyer, reviewed it for me. And today, with hands that shook a little, I signed and mailed it back. The novel I've worked on for more than a decade is going to be published. Did you hear that folks? MY NOVEL IS GOING TO BE PUBLISHED. Am I happy? If I had a cake I'd push my face into it just like my little grandson did on his second birthday.
You may read a sample (the prologue) by going to the Book page of my website: susanclaytongoldner.com
I can't remember a time when I didn't know I was born to be a writer. I suppose that makes me one of the lucky ones. I do know why I'm here. But as all you other writers out there know, it isn't always an easy life. In fact, it is rarely easy. We writers receive so many rejections. We agonize over query letters and sample chapters, then send them out to agents and editors who often don't respond at all. One time I received a letter from a small press I'd queried. It said, "I only publish my own work and I'd rather have a root canal than publish yours." If it weren't so funny (and almost always wins the worst response from an agent or editor award) I might have cried.
Tenacity is the most important quality for a writer. It is a gift I received from my father. Believe in yourself and the power of your words. Never give up. Keep sending out your work. And one day, you'll get an e-mail or a letter in the mail that makes you want to throw up your arms, leap into the air, and smash your face into a cake.
Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four
brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She is a graduate of the
University of Arizona's Creative Writing Program. Susan has been writing
most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the
Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-
line Contest where she received a thousand dollar prize. Susan won the National
Writers' Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and one of her
poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings.
Susan shares a life in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband, Andreas, a blue-eyed feline named Topaz, her fictional characters, and more poetry books than one person could count.