Get Inspired Mondays, Writing

It Only Takes One Yes — Guest Post

Get Inspired Mondays — Guest Blogger Series

Welcome to the final guest post of the January edition of Get Inspired Monday!  Each week, a different writer has shared their story of finding inspiration — often from an unexpected source.  To read the previous posts, click here, here, and here

Today’s guest is author and illustrator, Erika Marks. Erika’s blog “on writing, publishing and other delicacies” was one of the first I started reading when I entered the Blogosphere. She offers solid advice, entertaining anecdotes, and inspiring details of her writing journey which are often presented alongside recipes from her days in New Orleans. And, like New Orleans, her writing is inviting, energetic, witty, and makes you feel like tossing around some sparkly beads! Erika’s debut novel, LITTLE GALE GUMBO, will be published by NAL/Penguin in October 2011.

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It Only Takes One Yes

By Erika Marks 

On my thirty-second birthday, I moved to New Orleans with my beloved dog, Olive. I took a high-ceilinged apartment on St. Charles, filled my cabinets with chicory coffee, and set the radio dial to WWOZ. I was ready for all the adventure, excitement, and, yes, romance the city could offer. And why not be ready? After several long-term relationships, I was single again and stubbornly optimistic that The One was out there.

Now that’s not to say I didn’t have doubts. Like so many of us who are looking for true love, I had begun to question how many close-calls I’d have to endure before finding The One. And like so many people searching for a road map to love’s erratic course, I took advice wherever I could.

Oh, and there was plenty.

There was the always-popular, Don’t-think-about-elephants line: “Love comes when you’re not looking for it.”

Photo Courtesy of Erika Marks

There was the boot-strappy: “Just get back out there, kid!”

And the old amphibian stand-by: “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your prince.”

The advice came fast and furious. I nodded. I smiled. I drained my daiquiri.

Then came dinner one damp summer night in a Quarter courtyard with a good friend who had recently found love again. Her wisdom arrived with dessert. “Don’t worry about the ones who don’t work out, sugar. It only takes one yes.”

Now maybe it was the heady smell of star jasmine in the air, maybe it was the blues band next door, or maybe it was the bread pudding drowning in whisky cream. Whatever the reason, I slung the advice around my waist, belted it, and never looked back. Why was I so discouraged? I had been so focused on all the relationships that didn’t work out, when what I should have been doing was reminding myself of the smaller number, perhaps even the smallest number of all! I didn’t need fifty men to be right for me. I only needed one.

Not long after, I met him. I was walking Olive on the banks of the Mississippi River in a misting rain, along the same stretch of levee where he was walking his dog. All of a sudden, the relationships of the past that didn’t work, didn’t matter. I had found the one. And I thank my stars every day.

As writers, we can’t help but spend a good deal of time focusing on the ones who got away, the agents and editors who didn’t want to sign us, the rejections, the passes. We know it’s not personal (as much as it may feel that way) but the No’s still hurt.

But here’s the thing: Just as you don’t need a dozen suitors racing to your door with promises of undying love, you don’t need a dozen agents competing for your work, any more than you need a dozen publishers in a heated bidding war vying for your book. You only need one agent to love your work, and one editor to go to bat for it and come back with an offer to buy it.

One.

It’s a fine number, don’t let the hype fool you. There’s nothing lonely about it.

So if it’s at all possible (and I know it’s usually not), try not to get wrapped up in the numbers. And if you must, envision a far more intimate number when you send out that query or that partial or that glorious full.

Like true and lasting love, it only takes one yes.

(Unless you happen to be a polygamist. In which case multiple offers are probably required.)

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Erika Marks is a writer of women’s fiction and an illustrator living in North Carolina. Her debut novel, LITTLE GALE GUMBO, will be published by NAL/Penguin in October 2011. You can find her at her blog, and on Facebook.
 
Get Inspired Monday! will be back, but with a mix of guest bloggers, interviews, writing prompts, contest/submission information, and thoughts from yours truly. I hope it will continue to inspire writers and non-writers alike as you dig into your week. Many thanks for reading!

35 thoughts on “It Only Takes One Yes — Guest Post”

  1. ‘You only need one yes’ is what I’ve always told people. Finding them is a mixture of luck, fate and strangers connecting in a crowded world. Lovely post, Erika (and thank you, Amanda!)

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    1. Hi Roz–thanks so much. I think we all struggle to focus on the positive at one point or another. Just the other day, I was talking with someone about the subject and asking why we can have a dozen compliments on something (a meal, a fashion choice, whatever) and one criticism, and we can’t help but focus on the one negative. We know we can’t please everyone (or tell ourselves, anyway) but still it’s a hard sentiment to practice sometimes!

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  2. What a lovely thought to meditate on. Oftentimes, we get caught up in the fantasy of everyone vying for our work and thinking we’re the best, when really, we only need one person to believe in our work enough to publish it. The rejections and “no’s” do hurt, but you just have to remember that wasn’t the best opportunity for you or the best person to help propel you to the next level. I believe my “yes” is out there! Thanks for this Erika (and Amanda!) 😀

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    1. Thank you! (And love your photo, by the way–it got a big thumbs up from my girls!) You are excatly right to look at it that way; every experience helps us grow, but not every one is the one that will get us where we ultimately need to go, in love, in writing, in life.

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  3. What a great analogy between love and writing. With each, we must be clear about our own value. Then we must be open to what the universe brings to us. Sometimes the “yes” may not look the way we had pictured it, but it is perfect, nonetheless.

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    1. I love the point about being open to whatever comes–that is such an important piece, isn’t it? Of course we can’t know in the moment which opportunities will pan out and which ones won’t, but we have to be open to all of them if we’re ever to find out. Thanks so much for sharing that.

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    1. Thanks, Robert. And you’re so right that it doesn’t matter what we’re writing–the point is the same. And there are so many wonderful agents out there who are incredibly generous with their advice on sample pages/fulls/etc. Taking those bits of encouragement goes a long way toward making our work stronger.

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  4. Great post. Love your breakdown of the advice you received. I often hear folks talk about how they want to find the one after a bad relationship or ending. I’m a year out of marriage and just the opposite, not even thinking about a serious relationship for a loooong time. My first thought was that maybe it’s a guy thing. But I also have at least 3 women friends just coming out of divorce and they’re wary. So, maybe it’s a divorce thing. I ponder. Either way, I love this post and will be sending it off to a couple of friends who probably need a pick me up from your tale.

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    1. My thanks–and thank you too for sharing your experience. I do believe timing plays a huge part in our opportunities, in life, love, writing, all of it. Sometimes we’re in a better place than others to receive opportunities–and sometimes, the right opportunity can help move us from one spot to another, especially when we’re coming out a hard time.

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  5. What a great post, Erika. I’ll always readily admire anyone who can pack up a life and move somewhere new. And I agree that writing really is a lot like dating: show up with confidence, walk away with the boy.

    Now, if only the “showing up with confidence” part were easy.

    Thanks very much. I enjoyed this post. 🙂

    Amanda, I’m really looking forward to your description of next month’s “Get Inspired Mondays”–especially the writing contest element. What a fabulous idea!

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    1. Thank you, Maura. You set the bar high with your first post of the series–it’s been a wonderful series and so great to hear there’s more to come.

      Confidence IS such a tough thing. I think we all have pockets of our lives that we are confident about, but plenty of areas in which we are terribly insecure. And of course, it’s always changing, depending on the feedback we’re getting…

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  6. Ericka, I enjoyed your post immensely. It’s a great reminder that we always have a choice in our perception of any situation. Plus, the “yes” always seems to be worth the wait.

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    1. Hi, SweetiePie–thank you! I like the way you phrase that: that we do have a choice in how we perceive situations and feedback. Such a good reminder, especially on those tougher days.

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  7. Erika,

    As a NOLA native who’s coming home in a few weeks for Mardi Gras, I especially enjoyed this post. I’m a writer too, and while I don’t even have a manuscript yet, I can relate to the stress and worry you talk about here. I really love your writing, and am going to hop on over to your blog in just a sec.

    love the pic with the moss and the beads in the tree, btw!
    😉
    erin
    @ErinMargolin

    Like

    1. Hi Erin, so glad you stopped by–oh, Mardi Gras! Have you had a piece of King cake yet? I crave them year-round but DEFINITELY start to in earnest around this time…

      Thank you for your kind words and for leaving your thoughts–have a wonderful trip!

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  8. Hi Erika,

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. It’s always a good reminder that ONE is just fine, and it’s a nice reversal of the negative thinking it’s so easy to fall into (viz. that a large number of rejections is some super profound signal from the universe). Certainly not true, but even I, a person who really believes in persistence, find myself believing it sometimes!

    Like

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