Okay, no whining in this one. Yes, I know this writing thing is hard. We spend years and sometimes decades pouring ourselves into stories. You sweat, edit, cut and sweat some more. And in the end, there’s no guarantee that an agent or editor is going to want it. Indie? Readers may not like it – or even find it in this huge, overcrowded marketplace.
Some people DO make it. Lightning does strike. Every Grisham, Sparks, Roberts, Mitchner and Clancy once labored, just like you. Will you make it? I don’t know. But one thing I know is, you won’t make it if you quit.
I’ve been accused of being Pollyanna before, and I’m not here to blow glitter up your skirt. But while you’re comparing yourself to others who are higher on the ladder, take time to look down, and realize there are others farther down the ladder, too. (And it doesn’t hurt to extend a hand down to them, but that’s another blog.)
I have two stories to tell you that will illustrate why I clutch those cheap rose-tinted sunglasses I wear.
First is my story. Many of you know it already. It took me 15 years to sell a book to New York . I received 417 rejections before I did. Did I despair at times? Yes. But funny thing about rejections – there’s two ways to look at them. They’re proof that you’re a failure at this thing you love, or that you need to work harder with craft and querying (include marketing, if you’re indie) – you’re one rejection closer to a ‘yes’.
The secret key is: Focus. What you focus on makes the difference between quitting and reaching your goal. When I got down and discouraged, and I’ll admit, angry about it, the question that floated up in my mind like one of those old 8-ball fortune teller toys, ‘WHY do I do this?’ And the answer that followed had nothing to do with getting an agent, selling books, or even publishing.
I love writing.
I wanted an agent, a NY contract, and fame. Bad. But that’s not the best part. The best part is when you sit down to work and something magic happens. A plot twist, or a character shows up, or one of the many little miracles that we love, and didn’t see coming. THAT’s why I do this. To read something I wrote, and think, ‘That’s really good. I’m proud of that.’
Okay, too much about me.
Here’s the second reason, and I’m still blown away by it.
My husband worked in Aerospace for decades. One day he had a lunch appointment, so he walked out to the parking lot to wait for the guy, and ended up at the guard shack. He had waved to the little old man in the booth every morning for months. Just a forgettable old codger. But this time, he noticed the old guy scribbling furiously in a notebook, and he asked what he was writing.
The old man said, ‘I’m writing a screenplay. I do this job to get me out of the house, but I’m a writer.’
My husband asked if he’d recognize anything the man did.
The guy said, ‘I don’t know. Have you ever heard of a movie called City Slickers?’
Anyone else humming the Bonanza theme song? (if you don’t get it, watch the movie again).
If an old guy in a guard shack can make it . . .
And even if we don’t make it to an enviable place on the ladder, didn’t you love the writing first?
Just another viewpoint to consider….
So what keeps you going?
Why do YOU do this crazy thing?