Yes, you read that right: Defeat not Default. But more on that in a moment…
Let me start off by saying what an honor it is to have you visiting my little corner of world-wide-web! If you’re reading this, please know that I’m extremely grateful for you and hope you are entertained and inspired by my musings. I would love to hear from you!
And now, for a little introduction…
Hi, I’m Kate and I’m feeling defeated.
Wow Kate, what a way to start off a blog. Stick with me, it will make sense. I promise.
The year 2017 was a year of change for me. These changes (let’s be frank, they were ginormous) brought their own new challenges that forced me to grow as a person and take on new roles.
After eight years in the medical industry, I left for a new position in the financial world. While there were many similarities and ways that I was able to transfer my skills, there was and still is a learning curve. I knew my previous job inside and out, and I could anticipate potential problems or questions with the best of them. Switching to a job where the industry was completely new, honestly it felt like I was drowning at times. I enjoyed the work, but I don’t enjoy not knowing what I am doing. I remember on a training call asking when it gets easier and laughter answered me back. After she grew tired of belly-laughing, the trainer informed me that it could take a good year to feel like you’re no longer drowning. You grab at small pieces of information you learn along the way and realize after a while that it’s all keeping you afloat. It will only get better from there. Well, here I am in 2020 and still floating. At times, I even feel as if I’m back in the boat!
Another big life change that took place for me in 2017, and the sweetest one, was the birth of my son. My husband and I have been married since 2008, and we finally decided it was time to take the plunge into parenthood. It has been the most exciting, indescribably rewarding adventure despite the lack of sleep and added worry that naturally follows.
And somehow, despite that sleep-deprived, challenging year, I also managed another significant change–I wrote my first novel.
Writing was never something that had been on my radar. Sure, I’d written short stories in school when required and even had one published in some book that collected stories from students across the country. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even tell you the name of that book. I’d probably cringe to read it now. But it wasn’t something I’d ever considered pursuing or even tinkering with as a hobby. I was simply happy to read all my Christian fiction and historical romance to my little heart’s content (Deeanne Gist and Mimi Matthews are some of my faves!).
While adapting to this new “mom” thing that year, I found I had more time to read despite my lack of sleep (hello being awake all hours of the night). I found myself flying through books, but growing frustrated that the majority of them were pretty un-relatable to me from the heroine’s POV. I wanted the stories to be realistic for me, to read of women that I could see myself making the same decisions were I in their shoes. I know everyone has their own opinion on this–some people like to read about characters of the exact opposite disposition as a way to escape and be someone new. But I like to be emotionally vested in the story, to relate to what’s being said and done.
And so, that year I decided to write my own story. I began completely clueless as how to proceed (remember that whole hate not knowing what I’m doing thing?). I came up with a storyline and began writing–literally writing–it down in a small notebook I had on hand.
As I wrote, an ember of excitement began to burn and soon I had transferred the entire story to my computer as I set to editing my work. The characters I had created took hold of my imagination and would not be forgotten. Soon, more stories came to mind and I began researching all things literary agents and queries and synopses. I thought Aha! This is it! Prayed a few [many] times and set to writing my query letters.
Rejection after rejection.
Don’t give up, they say. It only takes one, they say. And, yes, they would be correct. But that one didn’t come for me—though I did receive an encouraging response that my writing was close and with some detailed editing, could be reconsidered.
And so, I set to edit the mess out of that story. But by the time I was ready to resubmit, the agent was no longer open to queries.
Defeated once again.
Hello self-publishing! I created my own book cover and launched it on Amazon for Kindle and had small success (a handful of five-star reviews, fan messages from complete strangers), and I thought this time, this is it!
And then, the excitement slowed. Nothing more happened. No one continued reading my story.
Since then, I’ve unpublished my first novel to spend more time editing it, while writing two more. One of them was queried extensively as well, with no luck. After receiving a rejection from an agent that I just knew was the perfect fit, I honestly felt like giving up.
Writing, let alone querying itself, takes up so much precious time–precious free time that is already quite small after family, career, ministry (Oh, did I mention that my husband recently became a part-time evangelist for a local church? No? Hello new title of Preacher’s Wife). I found myself in a struggle to balance it all.
I’ve never been one to wallow in self-pity, but something about this year finally got me. Despite quarantine, I felt I had even less time to devote to my little joy of writing. I’d prayed time after time along the way and nothing seemed to be working, so I decided to quit. Perhaps defeat was telling me I should. My stories gathered dust where they sat shelved in the recesses of my mind.
Over the summer, I noticed a disturbing trend to my life. I was regularly struggling to get to work on time, not working out, eating horribly, and I lost interest in many things, but especially in putting my stories into words.
I felt utterly defeated in nearly all areas of my life. I had been trying to be all the things all the time and it was burning me out. Any efforts seemed wasted. I mean, why even try?
I began reading about depression and many sources stated that in this year and all things 2020, it was sneaking up on people who typically didn’t deal with depression as a lack of interest in things they once enjoyed.
That was a wake-up call for me. I began looking into how do I fix this? and unfortunately there is no quick-fix answer. But several things stuck out to me, in particular was the notion that you do the things any way. Locking away yourself from healthy relationships and hobbies will only make things worse.
Specific to writing, the advice was given to write any way. You may not have the ability to devote yourself to writing full-time, but write when you can. An hour here and there to yourself? Write. You may not get published or become a best-selling author, but you’ve written more than if you had never tried.
Whatever your goal, keep trying. Grab at anything you can, no matter how small, to stay afloat. Eventually, you’ll find yourself back in the boat.
And so, I’ll keep writing, keep praying, keep working. (Stay tuned for exciting book news to come!).
Because I’ve realized in life what often appears to be defeat is actually opportunity.