Yesterday morning one of my new Twitter friends shared excitement over an agent requesting to read his manuscript. Since I have been advised that it would behoove me to display socially acceptable behavior, I attempted an appropriate response.
“Wow, that’s great! Congratulations!”
I caught the evil, socially unacceptable voice in my head adding the words,
She (of course it’s a she!) was jealous that it wasn’t us who received that request. Lord knows we’ve been trying for a while. That knee jerk, unintentional reaction made me stop and ponder what percentage of the congratulations, that’s great’s, and good for you’s, I force out of my mouth knowing they are complete hogwash. Several examples immediately jumped to mind.
1- Several of my friends are unmarried and have no children. Most of them are pretty anxious, a fact that is exacerbated by our age (30, yikes!) and pretty much everyone we know being married and having children. I often wonder how said friends manage to congratulate these people without warily eyeing the sky for lightning bolts or choking on their tongues.
2-I have a good friend who gets to travel the globe for weeks on end every summer. Australia, New Zealand, the Mediterranean, France. China…you name it, she’s been there. Looking at her pictures every summer makes the evil voice in my head go bonkers. Still, I dutifully pretend to belong in mainstream society and manage a few nice comments on Facebook. I am dying to be able to travel. She also has a full time job she actually enjoys. That little part of my brain hates her sometimes. Did I mention these vacations are entirely paid for in exchange for her keeping track of a few high school honor students? Now you hate her too, don’t you? Admit it.
3- I had a long distance
relationship summer fling that wouldn’t die in college. While it wasn’t serious, I was under the impression delusion it could be. One day when we were discussing when I could visit he advised me that he “sort of had a girlfriend now.” Again, wanting to be appear normal, I managed a suitable reply. “Really, that’s great. What’s her name? (so I can kick her in the face when I see her…wait, no, not at all normal…bad evil voice)”
In some situations, maybe it is okay to let the evil, jealous voice have its way. I posit, however, that many situations exist in which you should silence the snarky bitch inside your head. Hold her down and tape her mouth shut if you have to. The reasons for this are:
1-We are connecting with other
struggling aspiring writers to hopefully help get one another to the published stage. Knowing that there are actually agents out there requesting/selling manuscripts encourages me. Hmmm, maybe they do actually read submissions. In my head, they all have a huge, red button (like the EASY button in the Staples commercials) that says REJECT ALL. It’s nice to know they don’t. It gives me hope.
2-What writer doesn’t love to read good books? The more talented authors (as I know many of you are) who get a chance to be published, the more quality novels on the shelves. That’s a bonus for everyone.
3- I know how hard I work, how much I study, how badly I want success, and how much time I spend writing, editing, and perfecting my work. My fellow twittering writer does to. He deserves the chance to have it read, and perhaps accepted. I shouldn’t begrudge him that. He earned it. After months of exploring the publishing industry I understand that no author get’s an agent or a book deal they haven’t earned with great writing, a great story, pounding the pavement, and more than a little bit of luck.
I’m not going to feed you any bullshit like “God must have an even greater plan for you”, “it’s just not meant to be,” or the always popular “your time is coming.” I have no way of knowing whether it’s true. Maybe our time will never come and our novels will never get published. I submit the humble idea that maybe it doesn’t matter. As I’ve said, I write because I have to, not because I expect to ever be able to make a living out of it. Not that I don’t hope/pray/fantasize daily that this dream will come to fruition. But even if some know-it-all agent advised me tomorrow that my writing was terrible and I would never, ever sell a book to anyone as long as we both shall live, I would still write my stories.
I’m thinking that perhaps our fellow authors’ successes can feel as good as our own. I’m willing to give it a try. After all, living vicariously is the only option I have right now. When it comes to the other writers you know, both in real life and online, I urge you to join in my quest to stay positive and encouraging. I challenge you (and me!) to try this: Support them. Be happy for them. Take pride in their accomplishments. After all, networking and community is why we are all here to begin with. I hear it takes a village to
raise a child publish a successful book.