Equine gymnastics and the true grit of the fiction writer

Maury Ballstein: What do we do when we fall off the horse?
Derek Zoolander: [thoughtfully looking up and mouthing the words silently] … fall off the horse…
Maury Ballstein: [looking to supply finish] … we… get back on!
Derek Zoolander: Sorry, Maury. I’m not a gymnast.

From the 2001 movie “Zoolander” (courtesy of IMDB)


Yesterday, Amazon reported which books made it through the first round of its Breakthrough Novel Award.

Dance of Souls did not make the cut.

I admit that as I waited for the PDF file of the 1,000 works of general fiction that had made it to open and then scrolled through the document, my heart was beating a little fast. Then, as I looked in vain for my name between Audrey Greathouse and Audrey RL Wyatt (yes, for some reason they arranged the list alphabetically by author’s first name), I felt that familiar gut-twist of disappointment.

Rejected again.

Even though I had said to myself as the file was opening, “I’m sure you didn’t make it.” Even though I realized that 5,000 (five thousand) novels were entered in the first round. I allowed myself a half hour or so of angry self-pity. Then I set it aside and got back to work.


Yes, that’s how we fiction writers do it. The old fall-off-the-horse-and-get-right-back-on trick. It’s really the only way we can write at all.

We’ve all heard about the 25, 50, or 100 rejection letters a first-time author receives before an agent or editor finally, finally recognizes the novel for the jewel that it is.

I’ve stopped counting, but I think I may be getting close to my rejection quota.


I promised to let blog readers know how my marketing activities were going. I’ve done three of the five things on my to-do list for this week: 1) publicized my reading from Fault Zone that’s happening on March 4; 2) sent books to the Goodreads giveaway winners; and 3) contacted blogger Rebecca Berto about a review. That leaves two things spilling over into next week: 1) choose pieces to submit for the San Mateo County Fair literary anthology and the Foster City International Writer’s Contest; and 2) plan another KDP giveaway AFTER reading this advice from Emlyn Chand.

So there you have it. Now I’m ready to ride off into the sunset.

5 thoughts on “Equine gymnastics and the true grit of the fiction writer

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  1. Can I ever relate to this post, Audrey. Though we know that those darn “rejections” are part of the process for 99.999% of writers, it’s natural to feel like we’ve been dropped from the horse’s back. I’m so glad you took the time to experience the blahs —which shows you care deeply about your craft—and have since leapt to “Onward, ho!” I can’t wait to follow your progress… Success is bound to unfold. Scratch that… It’s already underway.


  2. Audrey, sorry to hear you didn’t make it to the next round. Rejection sucks. It never gets easier, I just get better at dealing with it. I have more coping strategies than Ben and Jerry’s has flavors.

    As long as you keep getting back on that horse, one of these days you are going to ride off into the sunset! 😉


    1. Thanks — it definitely helps to have the virtual support of the writing community.

      I know what you mean about coping strategies. Sometimes the Ben & Jerry’s IS the coping strategy!


  3. It is really helpful when others share their journey with those of us not yet there, so I am grateful for this post. I hope your tailbone didn’t bruise too badly. Wonderful that you’re getting back on so quickly! Sets a good example for the rest of us 🙂


    1. My tailbone is fine, it’s that darn ego thing that’s not feeling so great… As for setting an example, I sometimes don’t feel I have much of a choice about continuing to write. But thanks for the words of support!


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