Not to get too metaphorical here, but I thought this gardenia (pictured above) had died – like, dead dead – after a hard freeze caused it to suddenly drop all its leaves last fall. My in-laws sent it to me years ago for my birthday, and I planted it by the front door so I could smell gardenia blooms as I entered and exited our house during the summer (I’m a bit of a romantic like that). It had never dropped any significant amount of leaves since I planted it, and I was crushed when I realized it looked like it was dying. Several times over the past few months, I’ve come close to pulling it out of the ground and calling it a loss under the assumption that it is beyond hope. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I kept wanting to give it a little more time, especially when I noticed green beneath the bark and was able to flex the branches. Signs of life!
Well, fast forward to late April, and upon another inspection, I joyfully realized this otherwise ugly bunch of limbs is now covered in tiny green leaf buds. It isn’t dead! I know now that it survived and will soon leaf out and be even more beautiful than it was last year. Had I been impatient and chopped it down, I would have missed this. I would have squandered a lovely bush and ruined its chances for restoration.
Patience is a fruit of the spirit for a reason. I am a terribly impatient creature at my roots (no pun intended), and my writing/publishing path has been quite the sanctification process (and will continue to be, I’m sure). I felt burned by the experience I had with my previous agent, who I left in July 2018, but I won’t explain why on a public forum. Suffice it to say, I was disillusioned and frustrated that everything I’d worked for until that point seemed dead. Ever since then, for almost two years now (off and on as life presented other challenges), I’ve been in the process of querying new agents, only to be largely met with “This is nice, but no thanks,” (if I even heard back anything at all). I almost called it quits several times, but I kept feeling down in my core that I should continue. Writing is in me. I may not be the best, but I’m passionate about it and about improving my craft. So, even in those dry months deep in the querying trenches where I accrued literally dozens and dozens of rejections (it never gets easier to receive those, by the way, no matter how nice they are), I listened to that voice inside of me and kept writing new stories and contacting new agents.
Now, fast forward again to this spring. I received an email out of the blue in mid-April that had me squealing so loud I woke up my sleeping husband. The first green leaf had sprouted. And that squeal turned into more and more moments of hope and excitement. My stories, as it turns out, are not dead. My writing is not dead. My path of publication is not dead. If anything, my stories and my path are now covered in tiny green leaf buds. If I’d quit trying, I’d have missed this.
I am overly joyed to announce that after a month of quickly evolving information and developments, I am now represented by Victoria Selvaggio of Storm Literary Agency. She and I had a wonderful phone call last week, and I could immediately see that she is knowledgeable, creative, supportive, organized, and most of all – interested in being a literary partner with me for the foreseeable future. She had helpful feedback about all of the stories I sent her, and I can tell she knows her stuff. I cannot explain how rejuvenating it has been to me to see her vision for my stories – for my tiny green leaf buds. Neither of us knows for certain what the future of publishing holds, especially in this era of COVID-19 and social distancing, but I will continue to be patient, improve my craft, and put myself out there. I am so excited for the journey that my stories will take and the homes they will find, so be on the lookout for even more exciting news in the near future!