Happy New Year?

Posted: January 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

Ten hours into 2011 and it’s already been an interesting year. By “interesting” I mostly mean disappointing, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In most cases, in order to be disappointed it’s necessary to have taken a chance on something. I’ve taken more chances intentionally this past year than I probably ever have in my life. I’ve been on auditions for bands, submitted my novel to literary agents, applied for grants, taken exams and begun new friendships. As might be expected, some of these things have worked out for me, and some of them haven’t. And it sucks. But it’s okay.

I’ve spent a lot of time so intent on isolating myself from disappointment that I was afraid to go after anything. I just didn’t have the skills to manage disappointment. Disappointment in the past was the equivalent to total devastation. I took it personally, and I took it hard. Eventually I learned that it hurt, so I avoided situations where I might be faced with experiencing it like the plague. In most instances, it kept me isolated from disappointment, but it also meant that I took very few chances, even when it meant not going after things I desperately wanted.

The band for instance. I took a chance on starting a band when I was 16, even though I had very little idea what I was doing. It worked out at first – I put a band together, and had many good experiences. Then everything fell apart, my band broke up, I decided it was too hard to deal with, and fled to the big city for college where I toyed with the idea of starting another band, gave up, and focused on school instead. Now, ten years later, I realize that I truly loved the process of making music and being in a band, and if I don’t get out there and take a chance on doing that, difficulties aside, then it’s going to be something that I miss out on completely in life. I’m finally healthy enough to take the necessary risks, and that’s a good thing.

I’m facing a similar situation with the book I’ve written. Finding a literary agent, especially as a first time author, can be a devastating process. I worked for a literary agency as part of my undergraduate experience…I learned that trying to be a writer entails a lot of rejection, so I gave up and defeated myself before I even started. I wrote one short story that I was very proud of, submitted it to one publication, was rejected, and gave up instantly. A little more tenacity could have gone a long way. So far with my new book, I’ve been rejected from two literary agents. In another sense though, I’ve been successful, because so far two agents have requested to see my material. Sticking with the process of finding an agent has been a learning experience, but I know it’s one that will pay off if I learn to look at it differently. So far, of all the people I went to school with who insisted they were going to write novels, I’m the only one who has actually reached the stage of looking for an agent. That in and of itself should tell me something.

Normally when the new year starts I confront myself with a long list of things I want to change and swear that this will be the year I make them happen. I take the longest shower (or bubble bath) known to mankind, try to make sure I’ve cleaned the house and made all the adjustments I can, and spend the last few moments of the passing year working up the mental energy to confront making a complete transformation of myself. In essence, this is setting me up for failure – no one can make those kinds of adjustments overnight. This year, instead of resolutions, I went out to a local bar with my closest friends and rang in the new year with trivia games, deep fried mushrooms, and rock music on the jukebox. My best friend is visiting for a week, and I’m content to kick back and enjoy the next week of vacation catching up on some little projects and gearing up for the new year one step at a time.

In the coming months, I’ll be sending out as many query letters for my book as possible and chalking every rejection up to one more chance I took. Sounds like something to celebrate.

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