In a matter of hours, I ordered myself a custom, self-inking stamp for "Requested Material." I'd get to use that thing in no time. Right?
I attended the conference. I had two requests for the partial of my novel--yay! Publishing contract, here I come! However, the agents wanted the submissions by email. I was happy to save some money, but it also meant my brand new stamp didn't get used. Ah well. They'd need my signature eventually.
Months passed. The agents never responded. The reality of the whole writing life set in. There were no shortcuts. No stamping opportunities, either.
In despair, I trunked the novel. I devoted myself to short stories instead. Rejections trickled in. Then--finally--an acceptance, for a nonfiction story to a big publisher! I printed out my contract. Tears filled my eyes when I used that "Requested Material" stamp for the first time.
It's silly, really, that using a rubber stamp can mean so much, but it did. It was validation after a ton of rejections. My work was requested, expected--respected. Sure, I wasn't using the stamp to fulfill my ultimate goal of a novel contract, but this acceptance would boost the skinny bio paragraph in my query letters.
I kept writing and submitting my work. The stamp gained a sheen of dust, but every few months, I'd pull it out for another short story contract. I wrote another novel. The angels sang in chorus the day I signed with a literary agent. I kept working. Months passed. I slogged through another novel. Meanwhile, the rubber stamp was being used on a more regular basis for story contracts.
Then, it finally happened.
The journey took five years. Five years, hundreds of rejections, and more tears than I can count.
On July 4th of this year, I signed my novel contract with a big six publisher. And you better believe that I had that rubber stamp on hand and ready to go. Vivid red ink emblazoned the front and back of that priority mail envelope, the words there for all the world to see: "Requested Material."
Maybe the infrequent use was a good thing, as the ink is still as bold as when I bought it. Fine by me. I hope to get plenty more use out of that stamp in the years to come.
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