October 07, 2015

No Pain No Gain – Ramona Heikel

It wasn’t the rejection that got to me.  Although it’s a disappointment, rejection tells me I have more to learn, and need more practice writing.  It was the feel of the rejection that led me take drastic measures.

I’d spent a few years writing a novel and studying the specifics of a very particular market.  I had probably spent six months just checking off the publisher’s unusually long and detailed list of requirements for every aspect of the characters, plot, word length, setting, dialogue and manuscript formatting.  (You know what I’m talking about!)  When I thought it was perfect in every way I submitted it, waited the requisite three to six months and then received a short email saying it wasn’t what they were looking for.

Now I’ve received loads of rejections for manuscripts I’ve submitted.  I’d always learned from them, been inspired to correct my mistakes, revised and resubmitted.  But this one felt different.  It was as if I stood at the door offering a precious gift of my time, energy and heart, and without a word, my offering was knocked to the ground, the door was slammed shut, and the bang reverberated in the silence.

Yes, I understand that editors are busy and certainly can’t respond personally and specifically in every rejection letter.  But some of the largest publishing houses in the world have responded to my submissions with professionalism, respect, courtesy and at least a short phrase of explanation for their refusal.  So perhaps I’d been spoiled up until then and now had finally experienced one of the more typical responses.

But then I had another unpleasant revelation.  After I dusted myself off and sat back down at the keyboard, I realized my novel was so tailor-made for that one unique market that I couldn’t actually revise and resubmit it anywhere else. 

All that work for all those years wasted?  And I couldn’t even learn from it?  What good was that?

So that was the pain.  Now for the gain.

If that’s the way the industry was going to treat its novice novel writers, I was going to have to find a more practical way to hone my writing skills.  It just so happened that just a few months prior, my writing group had invited one of our members to speak about her experiences writing for magazines.  For our purely novel-writing group, this was almost unheard of.  But as I recalled this workshop, I decided to look into writing shorter pieces.

I returned to my Writer’s Market and scanned the magazine categories.  None of them interested me…until I came upon the children’s magazines!  How could I have I missed that genre?  I worked with kids at my job, I still cherished all my own (and my sons’) children’s books, taught Sunday school, and had even submitted my poems to a children’s magazine when I was a child.  So, I found the Institute for Children’s Literature and signed up for their course.  And there began a new world of possibilities, providing some of my greatest writing enjoyment and success.

I still re-read my novels and will work on them again one day.  Looking back, I can add that experience to my growing list of times when God has used something painful to bring about a significant change for the better.  It’s so true: we actually can, by faith, give thanks in everything!

Posted by Ramona


  1. Each rejection makes the 'requests for more' all the more sweet!

  2. Writing is one big learning process. One gets broad shoulders but when a writer finds their niche - sweet bliss! Well done, Ramona.

  3. Anonymous6:09 am GMT-7

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  4. Anonymous6:11 am GMT-7

    In the midst of frustration, we don't always see the blessing coming around the corner. And sometimes those corners seem a long way off! Sounds like God has led you on a very fruitful path!

  5. So good to hear that you found the Institute for Children's Literature and that you found both enjoyment and success in that. Often we have to just keep moving and God guides us in the right direction. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  6. Thanks for this inspiring and well-developed story, Ramona. Your final sentences sum up how God works in our lives: "Looking back, I can add that experience to my growing list of times when God has used something painful to bring about a significant change for the better. It’s so true: we actually can, by faith, give thanks in everything!" This is a lesson we can all learn from.


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