After months of polishing my query letter and putting the finishing touches on my manuscript, I was finally ready to put myself out there. I sent off my first batch of query letters and entered my first contest since wrapping revisions.
Then the day came for the contest participants to be announced. I opened blogger, heart pounding and hands sweating, sure that I would be among the chosen few selected to participate in the multi-agent event.
I wasn't. My entry didn't even get an honorable mention.
I opened my email in an attempt to distract myself. My first two form rejections were sitting in my inbox, smiling thier evil smiles.
I told myself that it was just a stupid contest and only a few measly rejections. There would be plenty of opportunities, the business is subjective, I was earning my stripes, it only takes one yes, etc. But something inside of me had shifted, because it was the first time I really considered the fact that I might fail.
Outside my window was a sea of grey - the fog had rolled in overnight, and San Francisco looked as bleak as I was starting to feel. It was July, but the temperature had dropped to the upper 50s. It was also Friday the 13th.
Pity Party, table for one.
"Fail?" She said, eyebrows raising. "But you wrote a book. You. Wrote. A. Book. How is that failing?"
I'd never really thought about it that way.
I wrote a book. I actually finished an entire manuscript. In the process of doing that, I learned a ton about the publishing industry, met some new and wonderful people, improved my craft, started a blog, read and edited other writers' manuscripts, received positive reviews from beta readers (even had several stay up late reading because they couldn't put my story down). So why was I so obsessed with the idea of failure, when I had accomplished so much?
It's simple: I developed such a finite view of what success looked like that I lost sight of everything else. I couldn't see the trees for the forest, so to speak.
There are artists with paintings that will never make it past the refrigerator door, dancers who will never make it off the recital stage, and bands that will never make it out of their garage. But does that make them failures?
I would argue that the simple act of trying is a success in and of itself. How many people do you know that have actually attempted to make their dreams come true versus just talking and day dreaming about them? My guess is not many, because there is safety in not knowing.
For those of you who are on this crazy path to publication, don't forget to celebrate your small successes along the way. And don't lose sight of the biggest success of all - you wrote a book. You were brave enough to put yourself out there. You were brave enough to try. That alone deserves a little celebrating, no matter where your story ends up.
What have your recent successes been?