The older I get the less I believe in correct and incorrect decisions.
I’m not saying I don’t look back at my “regular life” and my “writing life” and go – WHAT THE VERY HELL WAS I THINKING??? But I will say that most often, I remember WHY I made a given decision at a given time. (like the tattoo on my leg that I wish was something different)
When I got my FIRST ACCEPTANCE FOR PUBLICATION I jumped on it. Of COURSE I did!! Someone said they believed in my story enough to want to put it in print. WOW. They were a small, niche press, but MY BOOK MADE IT TO THE SHELVES OF SOME BOOKSTORES! I had some serious regret even before that book came out. Two years later, I’d have done ANYTHING to take that decision back. Now? It’s part of what put me where I am today.
Now that I’m coming up on TEN years after that moment, there are a lot of things I would have done differently, but then I realize that I learned too much to give up that experience. And all the things I learned, are things that helped me later on.
I can say this same thing about my first agent. I remembered why I chose who I did. And now that I can stand here, seven years away from the decision to walk away from that situation, I think – yep, that was HARD, but it helped me so much.
A few friends of mine have had setbacks this week, and it brought this same thought to me again. Yes, but these people did the right thing for them at that time, and who knows what would have been different, or what different challenges would have been faced if they chose differently AT THAT TIME.
There’s an old saying or an old story or proverb or whatever you want to call it that goes something like this:
Villagers in the small town continued to go to their leaders complaining about aspects of their lives. Wrongs that had been laid against them, burdens they carried. So the town decided to get together and put all their problems and offenses and burdens in a pot, and they could trade one with another. As they reached in to trade, each person chose the burden they had put in the pot over the trials of their friends.
There’s a lot to be learned from this, I think. We’re more equipped to handle what’s thrown at us than we realize. Our hardships are our hardships. We learn. We grow. And with luck (and using the people we surround ourselves with) we come out better than we went in.
I know almost no one who has had a smooth road to publication (even when it seems that way from the outside). But still we press on, a little smarter than before, a little more experienced than before, and a little more ready to face what’s coming.
Now I feel like I should end with something cheesy like – FLY LIKE AN EAGLE!!! THE WORLD IS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS!!
In brief, I will just say – If you’re writing in hopes of starting a career, think of the long-game. So many of our challenges can be lessened with a little perspective. Also, know you have lots of times for some serious ups and downs. Enjoy the ride.