I’m back to trying to describe the indescribable.

After day nine, came day ten. Then day eleven. And with each day came either nothing, or, a few times, another breathtaking rejection from another publishing house.

But still there was hope. There were 16 proposals sent–and all the rejections had been so encouraging, so kind and warm. So hope-giving.

And so devoid of offers.

All of that is easy to describe.

What is indescribable is what was happening within me as this all took place. My dreams. Dreams that I had had since a little boy. Goals I had been striving towards actively for years. Words uttered in blessings. Spiritual promises I had felt deep inside my soul. All of these things seemed to be finding fruition in our agent and our book and these publishing houses. It had all come together with such surprising speed, and with such a undeniable confluence–it was so obvious to me that the Lord had orchestrated all of it. He had made this happen. 

So why was it not working?

More days passed. More vacillation between exultant hope and bitter fear. At the three-week mark I had to admit it to myself: I was starting to wonder if this was going to happen at all. The unimaginable fear that nobody would buy the book became more plausible. It made me sick to my stomach, but the thought occurred to me intermittently. But that felt like a lack of faith! I had to have faith! After all this, after all these things coming together for our benefit–after this situation being so perfect, and all the stars aligning, why would this not work?

It is also impossible to describe the crushing totality of dreams that weighed upon me. When that much money is suggested, when that much success is at your fingertips–when your life’s dearest dreams are so tantalizingly close to your grasp after years and years of work and sacrifice and so many hours of quiet, isolated effort–you cannot help but visualize the realization of these dreams. You cannot help but imagine how your life is about to change. We did. We talked about it. We talked about it as if it was going to happen. We believed. You cannot help but count chickens before they hatch in a situation like this. They have all but hatched! You are looking at the eggs, feeling them, warm and speckled and filled with potential life!

And at the end of week three, the sorrow started to filter in. It was gritty and filled with bitterness. I remember sitting with Lolly, both of us crying with exhaustion, and saying words filled with agony. “If this doesn’t happen,” I said, “then I just don’t understand. It just… feels mean. It feels like the Lord set me up to fail. That He was trying to hurt me, dangling my fondest dream in front of my face, and then, just as I am about to touch it and feel it in my hand, yanking it away.”

I remember being in the Stake Clerk’s office one morning at around the same point, fulfilling my responsibilities as assistant over finances. The office was empty, and I was alone. I checked my email for the four trillionth time, and found, as always, no exultant news about the purchase of our book. And then I realized: “It’s not going to happen.”  I felt the weight of it so profoundly that I actually had to lie down on the floor. I just lay there, alone in that office, barely able to breath, feeling the minutes pass, feeling the crushing weight that had followed me for weeks push me to the floor like a physical force. I had to be on the floor. I was being smashed. The pain, still commingled with the weak, tinny anticipation of “maybe he’ll call today. Maybe today is the day!” was almost more than I could bear.

That’s the one thing about fantastic heights: the falls are terrible.

Eventually the email from our agent came. The text said “calling now” and the body was the submission list–that long list of names and publishers, all followed by the dreaded word: pass

They had all said “no.”

He called. He had no explanation. “I’m so sorry,” he said. “I’m usually so good at this. I have no idea what happened. I’m completely baffled.” He went on to explain that usually he can get a sense of what the market wants, and that he’s made his career on knowing what works. He was sure this would work, and he was so sorry it hadn’t. He also explained that he can usually gather what went wrong by the rejections–usually there is a common theme, or a running current between them. Sometimes there’s even a direction you can go to fix things. “But your rejections were all totally different. No rhyme or reason. No running theme. No identifiable problem.”

No rhyme or reason. No explanation. No sense to be made of it. Nothing to work on or improve.

They had all just said “no.”

The finality hit with a deep, guttural thud. And so did the full sorrow.

And so did the anger.