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Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Speak Out!: Failure Doesn't Have to Be Forever: Overcoming Writing Disappointments

by Lindsay Detwiler

When my husband came home from work, I was crying in our pantry, convinced my writing career was over. He found me somewhere between the tomato soup and cheese crackers, sobbing like someone had died.

In many ways, someone had died—the writer within.

A few weeks before my less-than-admirable pantry-crying moment, I’d received the wildest news. My first novel was accepted by a small romance publishing company. My biggest dream was going to be achieved at the age of twenty-five. After dozens of rejections, I was on my way to being a published author.

I was just getting ready to shout it from the rooftops, to announce my big secret. I hadn’t told anyone I was writing a book, the fear of failure perhaps stifling my confidence. Now, though, it was time. I was breaking out my true persona, sharing my dream with the world.

Until the email that seemed to seal my fate. The publishing company who had finally signed my book had gone bankrupt. The pre-editing I’d done, the cover design forms were all for naught. My book was done before it had even started.
Once he decoded my snot-filled detailing of what was wrong, my husband wrapped me in his arms and said the words that, at the time, infuriated me.

“That’s okay. Just try again. Someone else will pick it up.”

Try again? Was he crazy? I’d just ridden what I’d thought was the most extreme emotional roller coaster the publishing world had to offer. Going from a first contract back to square one was draining.

The tears eventually dried, though, and the disappointment simmered down. I came back down to earth, as reaching for the stars seemed to be pointless. But then I did something crazy, something unexpected—I listened to my husband and tried again, sending my work off to another publisher.

I got another contract within a few weeks. Now, four books under contract and a publishing company I adore, I’m happy I didn’t let the tears or the feeling of failure stop me. Other than the negative side effect of constantly having to hear my husband say how right he was on that day in the pantry, my initial failure helped me in so many ways. It prepared me for this crazy-hard journey as a writer.

As writers, we know the publishing world is the most extreme roller coaster of emotion you can imagine. Since that failed contract, I’ve had many more tear-filled days. I’ve dealt with rejections and criticism, disappointments and let-downs. However, thanks to my husband, I learned a valuable lesson—failure doesn’t have to be forever.

So when it feels like your entire writing career is dying an agonizing death or when a sudden change throws you off-course, cry a little. Cry a lot. But then, pick yourself up off the pantry floor—or wherever you do your crying—and take my husband’s advice.

Try again.

You never know what is waiting just around the corner.

* * *
Lindsay Detwiler is a contemporary romance author and high school English teacher. She has published three novels: Voice of Innocence, Without You, and Then Comes Love. Her next book entitled Where Love Went is set for release in August with Hot Tree Publishing, and To Say Goodbye is set for release in September. She currently lives in her hometown with her husband Chad, their five cats, and their mastiff Henry. You can find out more about Lindsay’s writing at, on Facebook at, or on Twitter at
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


  1. Great post, Lindsay! I've heard this story from far too many authors who've had publishers go under. It's important not to put all your eggs in one publishing basket. I'm so glad you tried again! I think Harper Lee's quote fits here: "I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide."

  2. I'm so glad this story had a happy ending. I almost had this same experience. My publishing company wound up making it, but I had to wait forever for my first book to come out. I too thought--OH MY GOSH, how can I go through this again? Another thing about writers, besides the fact that we are emotional, is that we are also resilient! :)

  3. Thanks for commenting, Angela! I love the Harper Lee quote you have posted. I am going to hang onto that for any tough days that come up :)

  4. Margo,

    Thanks so much for commenting! I definitely agree we are resilient...sometimes we just need reminded of this fact :) My husband is really great at pushing me to remember this. Good luck to you! It was good to hear from someone else who had a similar experience.


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