I recently quoted Amanda Rawson Hill as a Quotable Blog Post:
When you have to shelve another book and start over, you have to change your thoughts from “this is hopeless” to “This will be an amusing footnote in my life story.”
This quote from her excellent post on changing how you tell your own story struck me. Right in the feels.
Amanda’s post discusses how to keep keeping on as a writer when you feel like your career or dreams are stagnating.
This applies to all areas of pursuit, I think. All dreams, careers, sports, schools, rivalries, friendships, and just everything.
If you’ve been stalking my recent blog posts (x, x, x), you know that I recently became a client of New Leaf Literary & Media Inc., represented by the very wonderful Pete J. Knapp. Getting an agent is a HUGE deal on the writing journey toward publication. Agents are beautiful mythical creatures who guide you through the business of your passion (deals and rights and contracts and submitting to publishing houses).
So it’s a big deal.
But as with any journey toward a dream, there is a lot of self-doubt along the way.
How did I deal with it?
Well, Amanda had it right, I treated any downfall and deflation like an amusing footnote in my life story.
And it brings along The Three Feelings of Perspective (yes, yes I did just make up that title).
I wrote 4 and multiple fractions of books before The Nameless Queen. After each one, I had that feeling. The feeling of:
1. I have just finished an entire book and will soon by ruling the world! Come throw rose petals at my feet, mere mortals!
Of course, that was each time quickly followed by feelings of:
2. It will never be good enough to grace the shelves of my lovely mortal fellow humans, so I’m going to crawl under this here boulder for a while.
BUT! That feeling was just as quickly followed by:
3. I know I can do better. I know I can make something better than what I just did. And someday when I see my debut novel on a shelf*, the books I’ve written before will just be a number.
I’ll say, “Yes, I wrote X Number of books before I got published. And you know what? This is the one. Yes, my first book will always hold a special place in my heart. Then there was that one book I wrote, finished, and never touched again. Then there was that one that went on and on and on and on and I never got to the end. But that’s okay, because those are all just footnotes in my life story.”
After all, you only debut once, so you want it to be the best you can do. And then, after that, you have your whole life to keep writing and writing and writing. Years from now, the huge moment of getting an agent and getting published and being a debut author… those will be the highlights of the long story of Our Lives, and the moments that seem so big and tragic and full of doubt, will just be footnotes.**
And the same goes for your career and your family and your friends and travels and experiences and loves. There are footnotes and highlights, and it’s all a matter of time and perspective.
*the ultimate shelfie
**just in case your feeling a bit nihilistic: Yes, we are all footnotes in someone else’s story. But your story is the one you get to tell.