This quote from an agent at a New York literary agency was pinned to the wall in my work space forever. I often looked at it with that misty-eyed look of longing, slipping into a daydream about the day that it would happen. I’d get that email–you know the one–saying something like, “We think your story is brilliant and we wish to offer you representation, along with the promise of fortune and fame forevermore.” I remember thinking, “that’s when I’ll know that I have arrived; my writing is good enough (and so am I) . . . .”
It was months after I made the decision to go indie that I read that quote and saw what it was really saying. First off, it was telling me that this thing I love to do–writing, storytelling–has to be a struggle. Second, it was implying that the destination and key to my happiness as a writer is out there somewhere, waiting to be found.
I had an “aha” moment, ripping the paper off the wall and tossing it in the trash. Though this agent meant well, and was trying to bring hope and perseverance to struggling writers, this manner of thinking is from the Old Testament book of writing and publishing. Sure, it can be difficult to land an agent and make it “big time,” but no, the joy in writing is not anywhere but right there, in you, in me, between us and our computer screens. There, the magic is born.
When I was so worried about getting an agent, I fell into the belief that I wasn’t “good enough” until that happened. I became discouraged, disenchanted, and depressed. I cried a lot. I cursed myself with every rejection letter that came. I vowed to never write again on a few occasions. The joy and magic of writing became muted in the quest for being “good enough.”
As soon as I decided to go indie, things changed for me. A weight was lifted. A light turned on somewhere in the background, growing brighter and brighter each day. Once I began doing this for the joy and the magic of storytelling, not only did my writing improve drastically, but my life did as well. I began to see clearly the lies I had once believed; the lies of the Old Testament of writing and publishing that don’t realize they are lies–that I can’t be successful and happy unless I land an agent and get a big publisher.
The year is 2014. There are tons of ways to get my stories into the hands of readers. I don’t have to depend on anyone else to do it for me, or to wave a magic wand and grant my wish of being “good enough.” The truth is, when I am focused on the art of storytelling, telling the story the best way it can be told, and I am committed to constant improvement, and I am okay with me enough to look at my flaws humbly and be willing to make improvements where they need to be made, then I am good enough, and my story–once it is completed–will be good enough as well. Sure, there will always be people that don’t like what I write. They can go read elsewhere. And yes, the possibility of becoming super wealthy as an indie author is there, though not extremely likely. But that doesn’t mean I can’t strive for perfection, and set my sights on a prize.
Many Olympians dream of winning gold medals and never do–if their successors looked at the ratio of gold-medalists to non-gold medalists and used that as an excuse not to try their best and train like gold-medalists, we wouldn’t have any gold-medalists. And being an Olympian–like being a novelist–is a great feat no matter how you look at it. A small percentage of people who start a novel actually finish one. We can’t all be gold-medalists, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t achieved a measure of greatness already.
Don’t ever place your happiness, joy, and the inherent magic of life and storytelling into another’s hands.
Until next time writers and readers whom I love and adore, keep the amazing art of storytelling alive, and stick your middle finger in the air to anyone who tries to hold you back! ❤
You can check out my books on Amazon here:
The Treemakers (YA Dystopian Scifi Horror) http://amzn.to/1H3tqFw
The Truth About Mud (YA Fantasy Adventure) http://amzn.to/1EoAme8