Tuesday, July 10, 2018

When a Door Closes…by Marie Wells Coutu

Often, as writers, we get discouraged when a door closes.
Marie Wells Coutu

Maybe it’s an email from our dream agent saying, “Thanks, but no thanks,” like one I received recently. Perhaps it’s a message from our agent regarding our book that went all the way to “pub board,” and then was rejected.

We might even feel like the door to our writing career is closing when we get critical comments from our critique partners or from judges in a contest we entered.

Whatever the situation, it’s easy to feel that we aren’t cut out to be writers, or that our writing career is over—if it ever started.

But wait, dear reader/writer.

I know you’ve heard this before: “When one door closes, a window opens.” Some people may even attribute the idea to the Bible, and there’s probably some truth to that. We know that God closed one door to Paul and his companions but opened another one for them to go to Macedonia. (See Acts 16.) God used that situation to reach an entirely new audience.

This idea may fit if your publisher stops buying historical romance and you find that you must not only switch publishers but try a new genre as well. But I’m here to remind you that, sometimes, even a closed door is not locked and barricaded.

If an agent says, “This project’s not right for me, but I’d like to see your next one,” that’s more of a screen door slam. It’s not a full-on rejection; the entry door is still open for you to try again. Don’t assume she doesn’t ever want to hear from you again. 
You can still talk to her through the screen door, and you must!

If your project made it all the way to pub board, that’s reason to celebrate, even if it was ultimately rejected. With the help of your agent, figure out why it wasn’t accepted in the end, and see what you can learn from the experience. It may be a closed door, but that publisher may have a “mail slot” through which you can continue to communicate. They probably did not post a “Do Not Disturb” sign just for you, in spite of what your bruised ego tells you. Next time you ring their bell, they will probably open the door again to continue the discussion, and maybe you’ll even be admitted.

If the judges or critique group didn’t like what you wrote, take their comments, evaluate them, and apply those that seem appropriate. If your character motivation or dialogue or grammar was weak, then go work on that aspect of the craft.

You have a passion for writing. You believe you’ve been called to write. So persevere, and keep knocking on those doors, or talking through the screen door, as the case may be.

Above all, don’t assume a “no” means a door is locked and bolted. Your dream agent or publisher may be on the other side, just waiting for you to try again—with an even better product.

Have you ever had a closed door situation turn into an open invitation? Encourage us and our readers by leaving a comment below.

About the Author
The Secret Heart
by Marie Wells Coutu
Marie Wells Coutu began making up stories soon after she began talking. Her most recent title, The Secret Heart, and its prequel, an e-book novelette titled The Divided Heart, are published by Write Integrity Press, along with the award-winning For Such a Moment and Thirsting for More. She and her husband divide their time between Iowa, near their two children and four grandchildren, and Florida, where it’s warm all winter. Marie is working on a historical novel set in western Kentucky, her home state.

Marie is a regular contributor to Seriously WriteFor more posts by Marie, click here.


  1. Good morning, Marie, and thank you for these reminders and encouragement! I have to remind myself that God's timing is always perfect, as He has clearly shown me. But our human nature sometimes takes over and whispers those doubts to us--so we have to persevere, as your wonderful post reminds us. Thank you again for sharing. Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  2. Patti Jo, I'm so glad you found encouragement from this. I wrote it as much for myself as for anyone else, so I know what you mean about our human nature! I'm in a Beth Moore Bible study now, and am reminded that God is who He says He is, and will do what He says He will do. He is able; sometimes we just have to be patient--and persevere. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wonderful words of encouragement, Marie. The road for a writer can feel more like a racetrack than a journey. So necessary to look unto Jesus and grow in faith as we pursue our dream of publication.

  4. Marie, thanks for this post. I'm guilty of thinking the door has been barricaded when it hasn't. I needed the reminder.

  5. Thanks for this post, Marie, from a fellow Iowan. Or maybe co-Iowan is more correct these days. (:


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