This Is Where the Rubber Meets the Road

I’m taking a blogging break this week. Hope you enjoy this post from my archives.

When I decided to become a literary agent, I received advice from several wise people who knew what I was getting into. They told me it would be a steep learning curve, it would be challenging to build my business from the ground up, and that it would take a few years to really start seeing results.

Numerous times over the last three-plus years I’ve felt challenged nearly to the breaking point. There have been moments I’ve wanted to give up. But something always made me think back to the beginning and all the great advice. Then I’d think, “Oh yeah, they said it would be hard. I guess this is what hard feels like.” Realizing that things were progressing exactly as expected, I’d gather the strength to continue.

There are going to be times like this in your pursuit of publication. There are going to be times when the waiting is interminable. You’ve been advised again and again that the publishing business takes patience, and that’s true even after you have an agent, even after you have a publishing contract, even after you have books out. You’re going to freak out and think, “I am so SICK of waiting.” That’s when you should look back and remember how many times you were told this would take patience, and tell yourself, “Okay, this is it. This is where the patience comes in. I can do this.”

You’ve been told that the published-author life isn’t glamorous and in fact can get pretty stressful when you’re trying to write one book, while doing revisions on another, and maybe even marketing another. And you might think, “This is CRAZY, how am I expected to do this?” That’s when you remember all the times you read on blogs that it would be difficult, and tell yourself, “Okay, this is what I signed up for. They said it would be difficult, and this is what difficult looks like. I can do this.”

Those hard moments, the ones when you wonder why you’re doing it, the moments when you think you want to give up… those are where the rubber meets the road. Those moments are when you prove to yourself who you are and what you’re made of. Those are the moments that separate the men from the boys, the writers from the wannabes. They are your moments of truth.

You never know what you’re made of until you’re tested. Until you hit the hard parts, everything is hypothetical. You don’t prove your commitment until the moment you don’t feel like you want to be committed. You don’t prove your stamina until you’re tired but still must go on. You don’t prove your strength until asked to lift something you think is too heavy.

When your moment of truth comes, remind yourself: They told me it would be hard. This is what hard feels like. I can do this.

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© 2011 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Elissa Field on June 28, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    Thanks for this, Rachelle. I’ve hit the “hard part” of revisions this week, so I came across this advice at a great time. I shared a link to your post (as well as general praise – your advice is always so meaningful) in my Friday Links for Writers post today, at this link:

  2. Credit Keeper on March 30, 2012 at 8:51 PM

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  3. Warcraft Leveling on September 24, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It’s very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.

  4. Barb on September 1, 2011 at 2:11 AM

    Hi…I was searching for a picture of tire tracks for a banner I’m painting for my daughter’s band…this popped up in my search and I couldn’t have needed to read the message any more. Although I have not actively pursued a writing contract, I feel that writing, design, and publishing is something I have wanted and needed to do, and got my master’s to get there….thanks for popping up…isn’t google great????

  5. marion on June 4, 2011 at 5:58 AM

    >This piece is so a propos–for me and probably for other people, too. So I just put a link to it on my blog. Thanks.

  6. Suzanne Stock on June 1, 2011 at 9:53 PM

    >I love this post and so appreciate your perspective! Thank you for the words of wisdom!

  7. Sandra Ardoin on May 31, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    >"You don't prove your commitment until the moment you don't feel like you want to be committed."

    It's like that in so many areas: marriage, religion, raising children. But it's all worth it in the end.

    Wonderful post, Rachelle. Thanks.

  8. Jackie on May 31, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    >There are a lot of adjectives to describe how agents make unpublished writers feel; 'inspired' and 'encouraged' aren't generally on the list.


  9. Jenny Sulpizio on May 31, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    >Great post and I (like others who have just posted comments), feel that you have ESP on top of your many other talents. I am currently WAITING, and hoping, and doubting…and ultimately, am getting discouraged. Have I mentioned my major issue with impatience too? LOL

    Thanks for the reminder and for the encouragement! Enjoy a much needed break! 🙂

  10. sally apokedak on May 30, 2011 at 10:53 PM

    >Matthew 24:25


  11. Bryce Daniels on May 30, 2011 at 10:48 PM

    >Okay, Rachelle. Give it up. You must be clairvoyant or something along those lines.

    How in the devil did you know that this is EXACTLY what I needed to read tonight?


  12. Mary Johnson on May 30, 2011 at 9:28 PM

    >I'm chasing my tail on my manuscript, which I've promised to my agent in about a month. Your blog couldn't have been more timely, Rachelle! I keep saying to myself, "Feeling ths way is normal," but it helps to know that other people have the same experience!

  13. Stacy on May 30, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    >Great post, and a good reminder that writing is never simple or easy. No matter what stage you're at there will be new challenges.

    Well done!

  14. Dean K Miller on May 30, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    >"Realizing that things were progressing exactly as expected, I'd gather the strength to continue." A telling statement to the entire piece.

    What might have happened if you expected something different? Would the expecatation manifested itself, just as this one did?

    How much belief do you have in your own power to control that part of your destiny which is controllable?

    We tend to get what we ask for. So why not ask for a little bit more?

  15. Richard on May 30, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    >please feel free to stop over to Amish Stories to read on Tuesday a new post from old order Mennonite Jeans post. On this new one she talks about getting ready for the farmers market to sell her products. And also talks a little about her Amish neighbors. Thanks folks. Richard

  16. Nancy Thompson on May 30, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    >Wow! Timely, as always, like you're right there in my head. I want it all more than I want to give up. So you'll always see those skid marks in my wake. I won't ever give up!! Thanks for the reminder, Rachelle.

  17. Michele Shaw on May 30, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    >Yes to everything you said! Such a great reminder. I struck upon an idea that works for me when things get tough. I allow myself to wallow, but only for ten minutes max. I let myself scream, or cry, or whatever I need to do, then I say,"Enough. Get back out there. Keep going." Thank you for your continuing posts which inform and inspire. I need an appreciate them!

  18. Kaleen on May 30, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    >Thank you for posting this today.

  19. Devon Ellington on May 30, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    >If you want it enough, you do it.

    As a full-time writer, I'm really tired of people whining about "not having time to write". I spent years in two full-time careers, working 90 hours a week, so I could leave the other career and just have the writing.

    I put in the work.

    It was hard. It was challenging. I got tired, I got frustrated.

    But I wanted it enough.

    Write or don't write. The choice is yours. But don't make excuses.

    Yes, it's hard. But, ultimately, it comes down to: How badly do you want it?

  20. alwayscoffee on May 30, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    >Great advice — and something I *might* have needed to read just now. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂 ~Ali

  21. Carol Riggs on May 30, 2011 at 9:06 AM

    >Excellent. Now that I'm neck-deep in my first revision for my new agent, I've been wondering the same thing–what if (in the future) I'm working on one novel, revising another, and promoting/marketing another. Whew!

    Best wishes for Memorial Day and plowing through the difficult times.

  22. Becky Taylor on May 30, 2011 at 8:39 AM

    >What a great post! Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful break.

  23. Raven Sutherland on May 30, 2011 at 8:11 AM

    >Great post! I, like many of us, need to be reminded at times that worthwhile things don't always come easy.

  24. Read my books; lose ten pounds! on May 30, 2011 at 6:49 AM

    >have a nice break.

  25. Wendy Paine Miller on May 30, 2011 at 6:42 AM

    >I can do this.

    Love this!

    Happy Memorial Day, Rachelle! And enjoy the blogging break.
    ~ Wendy

  26. Christine Murray on May 30, 2011 at 3:26 AM

    >Thank you, I really needed to read something like this today.

  27. Rosemary Gemmell on May 30, 2011 at 3:09 AM

    >A timely reminder, thanks Rachelle. Enjoy your break!

  28. Beth K. Vogt on May 30, 2011 at 1:02 AM

    >"This is what hard feels like."
    Great reminder.
    I'd like to think I'll be the exception to all the rules you just talked about. I won't have to wait as long as other writers, I won't have to rewrite as much as other writers, I won't have to market like others. . .
    Yeah, ignoring all those truths is easy.
    But this is definitely a time when ignorance is not bliss. All I'm doing is setting myself up for frustration.
    While it's true every writer has his or her story, there are going to be some "yeah, that happened to me too" moments. Rather than thinking to myself, "That won't happen to me," I should probably ask them, "So, how did you handle that challenge?"