A mom who writes (and why failure can be sweet)

WritingThis dream of being a writer — it’s been around a long time, though  it has evolved over the years.

And lately I’ve been thinking about the journey I’ve had.

(Being part of Holley Gerth’s God-Sized Dream Team has helped me to pause and reflect. It’s funny how when you’re on the path of pursuing your dream, whether you’re just starting out or feel like you’re finally living it, you sometimes forget to take note of all that’s happening, or all that has happened, along the way.)

My dream of writing began when I was a new mom and my life was filled with diaper bags, baby toys, a lack of sleep… and a fire in my heart to write children’s books. (Actually, the desire to write started way before that when I was in first grade and wrote this story. It just took me a while–as in many years–to circle back around and re-discover my passion.)

And when I did, I launched ahead, full of excitement (and totally naive).  You can read more about that below.

Since that time, there have been many rejection letters, plenty of stops and starts, and several challenges to overcome. Yet there have also been close relationships built, precious friendships nurtured, and thousands of hours spent writing, which has improved my craft.

And, yes, in case you’re wondering… there have been books . :)

But maybe the most important thing that has happened throughout my writing journey is the way living out my passion and dream has impacted my life.

Because when you say yes to what you are called to do and just start, there is nothing else like it.

(Even if you do experience failure along the way.)

So today, I’m sharing an old post (below) to hopefully encourage you if you’re in that place I once was–pursuing your dream, but running into setbacks.

Have faith and journey on,

because even failure can be sweet. Here is a post I wrote back in 2008…

Failure can be sweet? 

I attended a writing conference last weekend and was inspired by talking with the Kirby Larson, Newberry award winning author of the incredible book Hattie Big Sky.

Kirby’s writing, and her own story about her path to success, made me even more determined to stay focused on my goals. And after the privilege of having coffee with her after the conference, and talking a little about my own writing journey, I realized just how much my perspective has changed since I first began writing…

It can take years to get a book published?

Hundreds of rejection letters?

No kidding?

Well, not me.

One year, tops. That’s what I’ll give it.

I have to be honest; that was my naive thought process when I first started writing. I had quit my career at Hewlett-Packard to stay home with my daughter, and reading books to her during her first couple of years made me realize I wanted to be a children’s author.

After hearing Shelia Walsh speak at a conference and being inspired to start writing, I couldn’t get my ideas on paper quickly enough.

I sent my manuscripts out to publishers, and waited excitedly for the book contract that I was sure would come.

Several rejection letters later, my one year deadline came and went.

That was years ago.

And though the journey of writing has had its stops  and starts (and fair share of disappointment), it has been incredibly fulfilling to be able to do what I love, balancing writing into slivers of time between diapers and bottles, preschool and naps, sports and homework.

After years of what could be looked at as failure (i.e. no book contracts), I’ve realized how much I’ve learned.

I’ve learned the true meaning of perseverance and what it’s like to keep going, even when the odds seem to be against you.

I’ve learned to find time for my passion, even when there isn’t time to be found.

I’ve learned that 50 rejection letters isn’t many.

I’ve learned that 100 rejection letters isn’t many.

I’ve learned how to pick myself up and dust myself off after disappointment. And I’ve learned that I’m a lot tougher than I thought.

I’ve learned to appreciate the accomplishment of other writers, because I know the hard work that goes before the glory.

And I’ve learned that something good really can come out of something bad. Like the time I got a two-page rejection letter on my middle grade novel when I first sent it to a publisher. I opened the envelope with trembling hands, went into the pantry (the only place I could go and not be interrupted by the kids), and cried my eyes out for thirty minutes. But once I got past the emotion of it, I realized the letter was like gold–it contained valuable suggestions for revisions from a top editor, and it was those revisions that helped to make the story what it is now.

Sure, I wouldn’t have minded getting a book contract during that first year.

Or the second year, or the third… (you get the point).

But, I have to say, standing where I am today and looking back over this whole process, I can honestly be grateful for the failure I’ve experienced.

Without it, success wouldn’t taste as sweet.

Without it, when my kids face disappointment, like not making the swim team or not winning a game, I wouldn’t be able to say, “I know how that feels,” and really mean it.

I wouldn’t be able to tell them, “Never give up,” and know that I’m setting an example.

And I’ve come to realize that, whatever the dream, the process of getting there can be just as important as the end result.

And that, believe it or not, failure actually can be sweet.

So if you’re working toward a goal and it’s taking longer than you thought, or you keep hitting a wall, hang in there.

Hang in there, have faith, and enjoy the journey.

Won’t you stop by Holley’s place, join us, and link up today?

And be sure to check out her book You Were Made for a God-Sized Dream: Opening the Door to All God Has For You (it is SO good!) and open your own door to the possibilities ahead!


Thanks for stopping by for Mom-Monday – a day for mom-stories, tips, articles and inspiration!

To join in, all you have to do is add your URL to the link list below and put my button anywhere on your site. It’s as simple as that; no post necessary. Just an easy way for moms to connect with other moms!


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  1. Thanks for sharing part of your journey! I don’t think it matters how much preparation we put into something, we still have to walk through it on our own to understand.

  2. Hi, Genny! I so enjoyed reading your post. I’m the God-sized dreamer next to you on Holley’s link-up. So glad I found you! I just linked my site to yours under the “Mom Mondays” above. I am having trouble adding your button to my blog, for some reason…I’ve tried several times to copy and paste, and for some reason, it hasn’t worked. I am not the most computer-efficient, but will keep trying. :~) Thank you for sharing your heart and how God has led you in your writing endeavors. You are a blessing! Love, Cheryl

    1. Cheryl,
      Thank you so much for your sweet words, and for tying to link up with Mom-Monday. I will check my code… thanks for the heads up and sorry it was a pain!

      1. Hi, Genny! Sorry to bug you again. I have tried two more times to copy and paste, but I still can’t get it to work. I am SO sorry. I am sure it is me, but each time I do it, I am only getting a small icon to show up…not your cute button! I just wanted to let you know that I did try, and I apologize that I can’t get it to work. May God bless you with a wonderful day in Him! Love, Your God-sized dreaming sister. :)

        1. I’m so sorry it has been such a pain! You are so sweet to keep trying. I looked at the code and couldn’t figure out what is wrong, but I will try to figure it out in the next couple of days. Don’t worry at all; I’m so glad you stopped by and joined in. :)

  3. Wow, it’s such a long process for a book to be written or even a contract to be signed.
    Thanks for sharing your struggles through it while having to balance family life too.
    It gives me some understanding of the process of writing.
    I’ve personally given some thought about it, but never gone beyond that because
    I just couldn’t put aside any time to think about it neither do I think I have the ability to :x
    Your perseverance is commendable and an encouragement, thank you :)


    1. Thank you Esther. Everyone’s writing journey is different, but if you feel a pull to write, don’t let not having the time stop you. Even if you just write for yourself (journal, blog, etc.)… you are still a writer! Hugs!

  4. Thank you for sharing this with us this morning. I am a new fellow-dreamer myself and I find so much encouragement and inspiration in the writings of others. Thank you for allowing God to use you to do His will. God bless you and your journey.

    1. Thank you so much for your words, Valerie, and for stopping by. Looking forward to reading about your dream journey!

  5. Genny, this a wonderful, and valuable, glimpse into what it takes to get a book published. Thanks for the encouragement to press on. Those are words that can be applied to all dreams!

  6. Dear Genny,
    Thank you for sharing your story of perseverance and your love of writing…Thanks for encouraging us as dreamers. I still need to write my post…

  7. I think that is my biggest fear as a writer. I am afraid of rejection and failing, but this fire that is within me — I have to write or else I feel like I will crumble up and die.

    Thank you for sharing your words today. They mean so much.

    1. Jennifer, I read your comment and wanted to stand up and cheer for you… I love that you have that fire in you to write. Do it! Don’t worry about the rejection; it’s just part of the process and there are so many positive things to be gained from it. I wish you the best in your journey and would love updates as you move forward. You will succeed! :)

  8. Kim

    It is such a deep drink of refreshing hope to hear of all the rejection that authors have gone through to get published. Yes, each one sharpens you and makes you a better writer, but you still have to keep taking steps forward. I am greatly encouraged to continue on my path, which includes inspiring books for younger children!

    1. Thanks for your note, Kim. How exciting that your path includes writing inspiring books for younger children! And I love your comment about taking steps forward. So true!

  9. Thanks for sharing your moving story, and for reminding me that perseverance pays off!

    Your God-sized dreamin’ sister. :)

  10. When I started teaching fifteen years ago, my department chair gave me some of the best advice ever about teaching: The school year is a marathon, not a sprint. The same is true of writing for publication, too. Slow and steady wins the race. Thank you for this reminder …

  11. Oops — somehow I managed to hit the “Submit” button before I was done typing the name of my blog. “Ginny at Ran” … makes me sound like a track and field website! :)

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