Using Setbacks to Grow
The last time I wrote an entry was in January. At that time I promised to update this blog more often. Obviously, that didn’t happen. I’ve been so busy, life has been very full, many opportunities have presented themselves, and thus, the year has flown by.
I have been working with a talent manager since April, and recently, have been getting holds and call backs and booked my first principal, non-speaking role in a commercial. A casting director has also taken me under her wing, giving me feedback on auditions when I have them at her agency. I enrolled in a couple of her commercial technique classes, and after these classes is when I started receiving callbacks, holds, and the commercial booking. Both of these people have been a huge help to me this year, and I am eternally grateful—they took a chance on me when few others would.
I also finished my book Rebirth: A Leukemia Journal. A little over two months after meeting with Carolyn French at Fifi Oscard, I finally completed the book proposal that she had requested. I mailed it November 28th. My acting teacher had referred me to her, so it was nice to have this “in.” However, this past Saturday, December 9, I got on-line at home and saw a message from Carolyn’s assistant. I knew it was bad news, and it was. Here is the message:
Dear Deborah,I'm afraid we have some unfortunate news that means we will be unable to take on your book. Since we met with you, a client has submitted a revision of a book whose subject material conflicts with yours. Because we must honor our commitment to previously signed clients before taking on new ones, we must pass on REBIRTH.We're very sorry and wish you the best with finding an agent to represent this heart-wrenching piece of work.Best,Nancy BeardAssistant to Carolyn French
I am a bit perplexed by this because when I met with Carolyn she gave no indication that any client of hers was writing a book similar to mine. In fact, she made a point of telling me that she didn’t place these types of books and would have to do some research. I also received my returned book proposal on Saturday; it was returned to me unread, or so it appeared. It looked as though nothing in the folder had been touched. It was returned to me in less than two weeks time, so there is no way it could have been read, with the volume of proposals they receive. All of this is very disappointing.
Still, I want to use this setback as a means of growth. One positive from it is that I have learned how to write and have written a book proposal, and I think it’s a darn good one. Another positive is that I had considered self-publishing the book while Carolyn was looking for a publisher (if, in fact, she decided it was a work worth backing). Now I can go ahead and self-publish it, without anyone’s approval, and get it out there to help the people who need it, rather than waiting six months or longer to see if a mainstream publisher picks it up. I now have control over it again. So, even though the quick rejection was/is disappointing, I am trying to focus on what I learned from the experience and how it can be a positive force for moving the book forward. Obviously, Fifi Oscard is not the agency with whom I should be working.
In the meantime, Dr. Goldberg, my oncologist, is writing a foreword to the book and reviewing it for any medical inaccuracies. What a lovely man to do this for me! So, now I will decide which self-publishing company to use, cut the manuscript again—try to get it to 300 pages (it was previously cut from 489 to 400 pages), make any revisions Dr. Goldberg deems necessary, and then, hopefully, self-publish it in February.
I refuse to let setbacks get me down. Commercial auditions I had last week that looked promising, did not pan out for me. Ah, well, that is life. I will continue to work toward my goals, and trust that I am doing what I am doing because God has instilled a passion and talent in me for these goals, and I refuse to let that passion and talent go to waste. I have seen the fruits of my labor this year and I will continue to see it. My goals may not transpire on my desired schedule, but I have faith that they will happen.
In the meantime, I have another writing project in the works: contributing to a feminist anthology that my friend, Adele, is working on. My essay is titled: The Accidental Feminist. There will always be that taking three steps forward and two steps back, but I’ll be darned if I allow those two steps back to hinder me. I am thankful that I was wise enough to look for the gifts that my having had leukemia presented. The disease made me re-evaluate much of my life and how I approach obstacles. I’ve always been an optimist and I suppose I always will be. I did allow myself to cry for about fifteen minutes on Saturday after I received the returned book proposal (that appeared to be unread). Then a song crept into my mind and I found myself singing the words: “nothing's impossible I have found, for when my chin is on the ground, I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.” (Pick Yourself Up, lyrics by Natalie Cole)