My mom sent me a inspirational article she'd found somewhere. The final line said:
The truth is, you're not defeated until your doubts and regrets take the place of your dreams.
I'm embroidering this on a pillow somewhere, tattooing it on my forehead, spray painting it on my office wall. Anything necessary to keep this in mind. Why? Because the reality of a writer can be tough. So often our doubts and regrets get in our way. It can be hard to push that send button, to give your manuscript to crit partners, to put it all out there when there is a very good chance it's going to get annihilated.
Are we going to get rejected? You betcha.
Are we going to have crit partners hand us manuscripts that are so shredded the paper barely holds together? Yep. Been there, done that, will do it again. Soon (love you guys) ;-D
Are we going to have agent after agent and publisher after publisher say "No thanks, it's not quite good enough?" Oh yeah. Frequently.
Will we have readers and critics hate our books and give us scathing reviews? Definitely.
Do you have a file full of unfinished manuscripts that you've started and then banished to the dark recesses of your sock drawer? Probably more than any of us would like to admit :)
Does all of this equal failure, collapse, DEFEAT?
Oh no. It most certainly does not. Why? Because no matter how many times we get knocked down, we get back up. We write more words. We send out more queries. We revise for the thousandth time and then we sit down and revise again. The more we do it, the better we get, the better our chances are of finally succeeding.
We are never out of the game unless we take ourselves out. Only when we are too afraid, too disappointed, or too pessimistic to continue on are we truly defeated. NO ONE can defeat you. Those rejections can't defeat you. Those bleeding red manuscripts aren't defeat. They are opportunities for improvement.
I've heard those who say that no matter how hard you try, you won't make it. The odds are too steep. There's too much competition. The market is too tough. And anyone who tells you otherwise is just being nice or overly optimistic. Well, all of that may be true.
But I know one thing for certain. I definitely won't make it if I stop trying. I was scared stiff to send my non-fiction book out to agents. I didn't have the platform. I had the experience but didn't have the "professional" background. I did it anyway. And I'm watching my dream come true. Someday, I'll see a novel with my name on it on those shelves as well. If it never happens, well, it won't be because I let my doubts get the best of me - because that would be something I'd regret the rest of my life.
The reality is, our chosen path is hard. It's downright brutal.
But the truth is, you're not defeated until your doubts and regrets take the place of your dreams.