Just the other day, I posted this quote from Winston Churchill: Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

Normally, I’d just leave it out there and it would hopefully inspire some other folks the way it inspired me. But I’ve found that over the past few days, I can’t seem to get it out of my mind.

Maybe it’s because I’m at a point where some writers I know have given up: 100 query letters sent, no nibbles. A handful of really nice responses, praising one or more of the elements of my offerings. But no concrete interest to date.

Many people would move on.

It’s not that I thought it would be easy. In today’s anyone-can-publish environment, I knew it would be hard to find an agent or publisher the traditional way, as the bar is set so high. I knew that books set in the Old West aren’t all that popular, particularly when they don’t adhere to the expected story lines. I knew that rape and incest were topics that would be rejected immediately by some agents.

But I also know it’s a subject that needs the light of day to shine on it, and that I’ve handled it with both empathy and sensitivity. I’ve explored the effects of these horrors not only on the abused, but also on those who help others heal, who become the caregivers for the exploited, and who may feel guilt and despair because they think they should have somehow, in some way, been able to intervene and change the path of fate.

So, yes, it’s a hard subject. I often find myself drawn to hard subjects, like intractable physical pain; the plight of Native American children in missionary schools; Irish slavery in the Americas; hatred of those who are not “like us”; the failure of those we trust to defend us; being disabled in an able world; and An Gorta Mor. I have written or am writing on all of these subjects.

Knowing that WHISPERS IN THE CANYON was going to be harder to place is something that gives me the ambition to keep going with the query process. The book hasn’t failed because it hasn’t found the right agent, but I will fail if I give up on it.

Or it could just be the hardhead incurable optimist in me…

5 thoughts on “FAILURE IS NOT FATAL

  1. A very inspiring post for all authors, aspiring or otherwise, Griff. I know how you feel about rejection. I only tried six agents – then I stopped, to change what was a historical fantasy novel into straight historical. I haven’t tried the traditional route since, but may do so once the third book of the trilogy is finished. I really like the quote, too, and can see how you ‘re drawing strength from it. I’m sure you’re right about there being a place out there for a book which deals with topics like yours.


    • Thanks, Millie, sometimes it’s harder than others. I just totally re-vamped my query letter and it’s getting a little better response than the original.

      What period do you write about and where can I find your books? From the stories on your blog, I already know they’re well-written!

      Have a great day, Giff

      Liked by 1 person

      • They say a lot depends on that query letter. It’s really daunting to think of all the competition that every author faces when trying to find an agent. I find it really annoying that ‘celebrities’ don’t even have to try – they just walk right in. Anyway, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you this time round.
        As I said, I’m not going to try that route until Book 3 of my trilogy is finished. (Perhaps I’m just putting it off as long as possible. 🙂 ) My books are set in the 9th century – quite a while before the setting of yours. I don’t intend to stay with that period, though. I love so many different periods of history, including WW1. I’m also intending to publish all my flash fiction stories as a book. Many have been done on WordPress, but I have several, longer ones that haven’t. A few of my followers have suggested this, so both myself and my daughter (who also has a WP blog and writes FF) are seriously thinking about it.
        My first Viking book is ‘Shadow of the Raven’ the second is ‘Pit of Vipers’. I only have them on Amazon at the moment, because I’m with Amazon Select – which demands exclusivity. They do help with promotion, though, by enabling us to offer books free for 5 days every 3 months etc.
        Happy Valentine’s Day!

        Liked by 1 person

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