DISAPPOINTMENT ISN’T DEFEAT
I shouldn’t have checked my e-mail. Labor Day night, after a warm and often funny family dinner, I should have stayed away from my upstairs office; I should have kept hope alive for another day.
But no, I had to go look.
And there it was—what felt like a fatal blow, a final rejection for my latest book, “The Tail on my Mother’s Kite.” This one caught me like a timber falling on my head. After reading the first ten chapters, the publisher had said, “We’ve enjoyed your manuscript so far, and we’d love to read the rest of it . . . We look forward to hearing from you and reading your wonderful manuscript.” Of course I sent it off immediately.
I tried not to hope too much. For a month I mentioned it to friends only vaguely, kept my expectations low. In this business, soaring hope must be tempered with diminished expectations, or your pyche would perish under the onslaught. You’d give up. You’d go kill yourself.
I could have given up years ago. Sometimes, during the 14 years it took me to polish and re-polish and finally sell “Higher Than Eagles” I thought, What’s the use? Why am I still trying? The book gathered hundreds of rejections . . . I never counted them all, there were too many. Yet after it was published it attracted awards—and five movie options, including from Disney and the producers of Northern Exposure. Even now people sometimes tell me, “I never read a book twice, but now I’m reading “Higher Than Eagles” again.”
For a few days after Labor Day I had this big lump in my stomach—but hey, I lost three pounds! I fought back the impulse to go wailing to family and friends. People have their own problems.
Never a moaner himself, my husband Rob jumped in to find a new name for the book so I could re-pitch the agents who’ve already rejected me. Yesterday he suddenly sat up in bed and proclaimed, “I’ve got the title, Babe! “Heiress on the Prowl.” He was serious.
Thanks to Rob and something in me that doesn’t give up, I’m back working again, trying to figure out what killed the second half of my book . . . trying to devise a new title that uhm . . . rises above prowling heiresses. For no good reason my optimism is back.
It must help that I’m half German, and you know how Germans are—you can corner them and show them no mercy, but they never quit. I guess most of you don’t know this, what with my being disguised as a Wills . . . but my maiden name is Klumpp.