Setbacks Aren't What They Seem

Updated: Mar 20, 2021

Hey everyone, welcome to my first post on Wix, I'm going to be adding posts from my old blog to this so stay tuned! I posted this on my old site about a month ago.

I know I’ve been fairly quiet. It’s been almost two weeks since I posted anything. Apologies for those of you who have been keeping up with the blog. I’ve been trying to figure out what my next step is.

As some of you know, over the last seven months I have been working toward one singular goal, acquiring an agent. My current work has undergone numerous rewrites and revisions, with countless hours spent editing. El’Anthar (the world the books take place in), had had me rethinking its structure. There are some geographical features I hadn’t considered before. 

It’s been a journey. I’ve grown a lot, my style ever evolving. With that said, I heard back from the agent whose attention I have been trying to grab. To say the reply was discouraging wouldn’t do what I was feeling justice. I got physically sick. I even went to my boss and asked if I could take the rest of the day off. I actually cried in front of her, something I hate doing in front of anyone.

Before I continue, I need to make something very clear though. This isn’t going to be a rant on the agent post. That would be completely unprofessional. As I’ve always stated, the blog is about the journey and my experiences on this path. I’m not here to burn anyone or in turn be burned in return. Now, moving on.

I guess the reason why I was so upset was because my understanding of what was going to happen was well, one giant misunderstanding. When I spoke to each agent, there was list of criteria, criteria I felt that I had met.

I thought I was suppose to contact them with a simple, “Hi, I did what you asked, would you like to have a discussion about it.” I didn’t know it was supposed to be a simple yes or no query letter. Had I known or understood the situation better, I would have approached it differently.

Regardless, it left me reexamining the endless hours and long nights I spent. It left the question, “So what happens now?” blaring in my mind. If I were to be honest, everything felt like it all was for nothing. From the changes to the directions I was given.

Even though my rational side saw it differently, I had placed so much hope on this one moment. It was like an architect who spent months setting up a project only to see a flaw in the blueprints. Rationally it was an opportunity to reflect, to adjust and improve. Emotionally, it was world breaking. 

I don’t want to seem dramatic, but I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Many of you have probably felt the same way at some point on your own journey. I don’t think the feeling is exclusive to writers. We all have hopes and dreams after all.

So with the news I went home and began binge watching Netflix, the gears turning in my head. I think the biggest was trying to keep from feeling bitter about it all. What I mean is, I felt a little deceived. I thought I had been doing all the right things. I know if I explained the details some of this might have a bit more clarity, but again I don’t want to seem unprofessional.

It took a couple days, but I started reflecting, then I started asking, “What have I learned from all of this?” The loose ends becoming more apparent. In a way it was kind of like a relief. I had been pushing so hard, putting in 16 hours a day between a 40 hour job and writing. When I realized that I wasn’t on anyone’s timetable but my own, it suddenly dawned on me that the pace was my own to keep.

It helped me see that the loose ends with El’Anthar’s geography that needed tweaking. It gave me more time to refine Shay’lin (The language of the elves). It gave me time to wait on the sketch artists to show me what the concepts I sent off might look like. The time I gained was probably one of the best realizations I took away from this experience.

I think that it also helped me enjoy the journey a bit more again. To really connect with the Ancient Blood Series. In the past week, I’ve felt like I really know my characters now that some of the pressure is off. It gave me a chance to really take advantage of social media, something that is so key in this industry.

I think most importantly of all, It gave my beta readers the time I needed to refine the series. Each of them has been so huge in helping me develop this story and series. The scrutiny, the jokes about forgetting words, and the care they have to helping me become successful. Without them I would have made it this far. They have been like a living GPS, “Turn here. No go there. In 500ft make a U-turn.” I know I talk about being grateful a lot, but what else can I say? Even the little bit helps more than you guys realize, so thank you.

So I’m sure by now you’re asking, “Okay Matt, where going with this?” Well, my answer is, “Forward.” There is a lot of work ahead, but my hope is that when it’s done, you will be blown away. The current plan is, finish edits/polishing, book 1, check in with the linguist I hired on her progress, turn my attention to redesigning the world map (current one is ruined and needs changes), shop for an agent.

From there, I plan to start edits for book 2, and then finally begin writing book 3. I still plan on growing my social media presence, but I’ll only be doing one blog post a week. My time simply doesn’t allow for more. I will occasionally post on Thursdays with book clips and teasers for future projects. I am still planning on refining the historical post I started and I do want to add more depth to the Valkyrie post.

All in all, I am still learning and still growing. For you authors who have had your rejection letter from an agent or a publisher, I’d like to quote something a friend said to me, “No” is not a stop, it is a go. Go find someone better to wave your dream to the world because I’m not good enough to do it for you.” Keep growing and pursuing your dream, eventually you’ll get there if you don’t lose heart.


Matt Brown

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