December 22, 2001

(email subject: Staying Creative Despite Setbacks))

Dear creative friends,

During these times of dramatic world events, it seems rather self-absorbed for fiction writers like me to spend so much time recording our own thoughts and emotions. Yet R.V.  Cassill says, “Writing is a way of coming to terms with the world and with oneself. The whole spirit of writing is  to overcome narrowness and fear by giving order, measure, and significance to  the flux of experience constantly dinning into our lives.”

So I continue writing.  I have not, however, achieved any publishing success. The most recent New York agent to express an interest in my novel, Desert Medicine, has declined to represent it.  But, she wrote the following encouraging  words:

I  find your writing lyrical, visual and often moving.  The stories of Laurelle and Rhoda are so vivid and true and the reader empathizes with both of them.  You have a gift for truly American characters  and a wonderful grasp of human troubles. You are a talented writer indeed.

Please let me know of any other work you might be doing and keep in touch. I appreciated this chance.

However, she thinks that the novel would be difficult to market, and:

The  book lacks enough drive for all of its length and canvas.  It needs more gas, more thrust, more push somehow to keep us breathless and rooting throughout.  Something is ultimately too leisurely and it finally didn't grab me by the throat.

I once asked my midwife (my boys were born at home) how she  was able to stay in the business for years and years despite the sleep  deprivation, and she said that her work had taught her something about herself:  She possessed endurance. I’ve come to the  conclusion that that’s what the writing life is teaching me.

In addition to continuing to file rejections, I’ve picked up the pace on my next novel, set in Nebraska. My newest game plan is to finish this new novel within a year and send it to the same agent, because she said she’d like  to see more of my work.

In the meantime, I’ll attend a couple writers’ conferences (San Diego in January and Grand Rapids, MI in April for the Festival of Faith  & Writing) so that I can network and stay inspired.

May you endure despite setbacks and passionately learn from  each new experience,

P.S. See my Christmas card at Please sign the  guestbook.

I also have a new web site up and running:

Feel free to forward this email to your creative friends.


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