Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 22, 2015

Successes and Hurdles

erikaphoto-45Erika Wassall, the Jersey Farm Scribe here with… 

A Personal Story of Successes and Hurdles

I have a story to tell this week. And while I debated about putting this up here, I have decided that there may be someone else who relates, or could learn from it, and that’s worth it!

First, I have extremely exciting news!

Remember this post from Kathy: The School and Library Market?

It really intrigued me. As a freelance writer, I’ve done a lot in the education sector from curriculum development and script writing to test passages and online self-education courses. So I started applying. I soon realized that it was much like reaching out to agents. You have a portfolio and resume instead of a manuscript, but otherwise, it’s pretty much the same. Queries. Rejection. And waiting.

But it paid off!

I have been asked to write a book on bees in an upcoming series with a small educational publisher!!!

Whoo hoo! I took the author guidelines and materials I received and devoured them. I spent many whole days in the library doing research. Asked questions to try to clarify the instructions. Wrote. Rewrote. Spoke to teachers, librarians, and read piles of similarly structured materials.

I proudly sent in my first deliverable last week. Excited to hear back from the editor, I checked my email about… oh I don’t know… every 75 seconds or so.

I’m going to be COMPLETELY honest: I had visions of praise and comments like “first draft??? This is perfect just as it is now!!!!” And it’s not that I’m that arrogant. They were visions, daydreams. I KNEW it wouldn’t happen like that. But ya know, most of us think we’re pretty good, or else we wouldn’t be trying to be published. So in my imagination, I was quite looking forward to his response.

And then I got it!! I opened it!!!

But then…sigh…. I read it.

Wow. It was a blow. I blinked a few times. Then I probably blinked a few more times.

This was followed by quite the range of emotions that I won’t bother describing too much. Anger at myself. Anger at the editor. Frustration. Insanity.

You know, basically a grab-bag full of “AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!”

To put things in perspective, I hadn’t even OPENED the word document with his actual comments in it. I had just read the email. But it made it clear I had a LOT of work to do.

I waited a while for the crazy to calm down. I looked closer at what he said. Opened the document and checked out the edits.

Turns out, many of the comments were in regard to the direction I took. It wasn’t quite the angle they were looking for. This means a lot more research, more hours at the library and a pretty complete overhaul of the entire text.

I went to bed frustrated, irritated and really… the word that describes it best… disenchanted.

You know how people say things look different in the morning?

It didn’t.

But then my husband innocently said to me, “so what are you going to do?” And in my infinitely fantastic mood, I shot an annoyed look at him and chided back with, “I mean, I have to redo it.”   And rolled my eyes thinking to myself, Geez… duh. Super helpful input babe.

But a few minutes later, the interaction crystalized a bit in my mind. At its heart the question was implying “is it worth it?” Which in the moment, sounded so ridiculous to me that it irritated me. But it was a genuine question. The answer was just that obvious.

Which means something. Realizing that to someone else, it might not be “worth it,” reinforced how much it means to me.

I suddenly realized… I needed to put on my big-girl boots and get over it.

Such a simple thought. But so meaningful in this case. And SO true.

The fact is. I am a writer. This if FAR from the last time someone will tell me I need to redo something for one reason or another. I’ve spoken with many published authors who tell stories about disheartening rewrites that were requested or frustrating alterations before a piece was ready for publication. This is a business. And since I’m serious, I’d better get the hell over it.

And while no, in this case the idea for the manuscript is not mine, and I don’t maintain the rights to the finished product. The WORDS, the content, that’s still MINE. A book. Published. That I wrote.

This is something that I’ve dreamed of since I was about 11 years old.

Coming to this conclusion is probably the single thing that has made me FEEL the most like an author. Welcome to reality, self! This industry is full of ups and downs, and if I’m going to make it, (and I truly believe that I am), I better be ready to hold on for the ride.

So to anyone struggling with a hurdle of their own, whatever it be, remember that these hurdles are reminders of who we are, of how much what we do means to us, and of our real belief in ourselves.

Ultimately, while I know I say this every time, it has a powerful meaning…

…. Our manuscripts, are worth it!


Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!

Thank you Erika for another great post – Congratulations!

Talk tomorrow,




  1. Go, Erica!! You can do it!!!


  2. Thank you for sharing your experience, Erika. Very inspiring! Congratulations!


  3. Thanks for sharing your story, Erika. It reflects so well the writing experience and growing along the way. Very inspirational.


  4. Thank you! This is very motivating and helpful.


  5. I can SO relate to this, Erika. I bet you look snazzy in your big-girl boots!


  6. Thank you for sharing the ups and downs.I appreciate your honesty and Congratulations!


  7. Thanks for sharing your experience and for pointing out that I might need to learn to like roller-coaster rides. 🙂 And…CONGRATULATIONS!!


  8. Congratulations on landing this contract!


  9. Erika, I dream like you do, that a manuscript will be grabbed and the editor says, ‘it’s perfect’. No harm in being hopeful and positive. So thanks for sharing your story, and congratulations on getting the contract! That in itself if really great. Let us know how you go with the edits.


  10. Thanks for sharing your honest, heartfelt story Erika! I’m Excited for you and anticipate it’s arrival.


  11. I’m so touched by everyone’s responses! thank you so much for taking the time to leave such encouraging and positive words. It really means a lot to me! Things like that make all the difference. 🙂


  12. Reblogged this on thejerseyfarmscribe and commented:
    This was my April 22nd post on Kathy Temean’s website Writing and Illustrating for Children.


  13. Thanks, Erika, for sharing your story! It means a lot to those of us who hope to be where you are one day — w/ an invitation to write a book. Best of luck with your edits. I am sure the end product will be awesome!


  14. First, Congratulations! Getting a foot in the door is the biggest hurdle. You will prevail and I look forward to the finished product. Thanks for sharing your journey!


  15. I read this a few days after receiving less than enthusiastic feedback from my critique group on a story I thought was “done.” Ha Ha. I had been moping around, feeling like I wanted to give up, but you gave me just the right medicine. Thanks.


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