You know what’s weird?
Of course you do. You know about a lot of weird things. Like platypuses. Black licorice. The success of Air Supply and The Big Bang Theory. But today I’m asking you to suspend your familiarity with weirdness and play along.
You know what’s weird?
No, Julie! What’s weird?
I’m glad you asked! Many things are a little weird. But one thing that’s extra-weird is chasing a dream that practically guarantees rejection. On purpose.
But guess what?
That’s what I did. Nine years ago I left teaching to (wait for it)
WRITE A NOVEL!
I mean, I also dreamed of having more time with my kids. Being a better wife. Adopting lots of dogs. Hard stuff, right?
That’s the thing about dreams, though. If they were easy, they’d be a to-do list.
Let’s say you stop teaching and
WRITE A NOVEL!
Let’s also say that novel lands you an agent. But then the agent can’t sell your book, so you put that almost-book in a (metaphorical) drawer, dust yourself off, and write another one. That’s right. A WHOLE OTHER NOVEL! Because this is a dream and I’m not giving up. I mean you.
YOU’RE NOT GIVING UP!
You survive a lot of “your writing is good, but the story isn’t right for my list.” And you revise and resubmit, and the story gets better, even as you long for the days students told you, “You’re my favorite teacher!” Still you keep at it until your book gets so good a publisher says
Now your book’s being published! But you can’t stop now! You’re not even the best wife or the best mom yet! Also you only have two dogs. (I mean, I only have two dogs.) Plus it’s been years since you were anyone’s favorite teacher.
So you write another book, and you get another dog. Then one day you realize what you’re hearing is not the echo of past-student praise. It’s your almost-book calling from the (metaphorical) drawer. After years of honing your craft, you’re ready to try again.
You rewrite the whole thing. Every sentence. Each character. All the plot lines. Themes. Motifs. From once upon a time to the end.
(Except you don’t use those words. Now you know better.)
But why go back, Julie? Don’t some things belong in the metaphorical drawer? Sure. Maybe. I don’t know.
I do know this was your first book dream. And it wasn’t ready then—neither were you—but you’re both ready NOW.
And this new-and-improved version of you and your book finds a publisher this time!
YOU’VE WRITTEN TWO NOVELS! (And several other manuscripts waiting their turns.)
Which is why you can’t wait to tell everyone: do not give up. Did you hear me?
DO NOT GIVE UP!
What I mean to say is, you probably have your own metaphorical book in its own metaphorical drawer.
Maybe you want to run a marathon. Or go back to school. Move to a new city. Audition for Survivor or join Match or learn to play the accordion or write an actual book, not a metaphorical one.
Why not give it a shot?
If you’ve given it a shot already (or several shots) and you haven’t succeeded, why not keep at it?
KEEP AT IT.
I know it’s hard. In the past nine years I’ve written five manuscripts. I’ve been told no thank you more times than I can count. You know that inspirational story about Kathryn Stockett being rejected by 60 agents before someone signed The Help? Yeah. I got her beat.
(Take that, bestselling-author Kathryn Stockett!)
But it’s fine, really. Mostly.
I mean, rejection’s part of the dream territory.
(Unless you dream about mowing the lawn, and you offer to mow the lawn. Then people won’t say no thank you.
And if they do, please tell me in the comments, because that’s weird.)
If you dream bigger, though, you might get knocked down over and over.
I’m so lucky I was in a position to try, to be told DON’T GIVE UP by my husband, friends, kids (not the dogs, though; they don’t care).
If you don’t have that support, or if you have support but don’t believe, or if you believe but don’t have the means right now, I’m telling you:
(Is that an Air Supply song? I don’t know.)
I do know quitting is easier, and running toward failure is weird, but aim for the risky option anyway.
You can argue in the comments that you love the taste of black licorice or that The Big Bang Theory is still so clever.
But the part about holding onto your dream? That’s non-negotiable.
And okay, maybe you can’t pursue whatever’s calling from the (metaphysical) drawer right now for very real reasons.
Listen until you can.
(Unless your dream is to be friends with Beyoncé or to own a beachfront mansion. I can’t promise that will happen. Ever.)
But most things, even hard things, you can work toward. I hope you do.
If I’d stopped the first hundred times I was told no, I wouldn’t have two books with publishing contracts.
Or three dogs with behavioral issues.
Or several other manuscripts waiting their turns.
Or a family that sees I’m willing to stand after being knocked down. Again and again.
Here’s my (metaphorical) hand. Helping you up. With my whole heart.
All together now.
Let’s say we DO THE THING.
These stacks are just some of the books written or edited by awesome friends doing the thing…