I’ve yet to meet a writer who says, “Yippee! Another rejection!” While rejection is an inevitable part of putting our work out there, it’s never fun. When I got one of those dreaded “No’s” last week, I went through my usual three bags of Oreos during two days of total dejection. Who in their right minds, I wondered, would volunteer to get their work shot down over and over like this?
But a few people and experiences helped remind me what really matters— the adventure of doing the work. Creative work can be in any field, but for me, it’s been in the arts—in dance, writing, and music.
A friend and fellow writer in my Sisters in Crime group made a wonderful comment at our last meeting: “I write because I love to—not because I think I’m going to write a best seller.” When she made that comment, I was all caught up in anxiety about whether my newly published novel would sell well. I’d almost forgotten that wasn’t really the point. I’d written IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU because I loved to write, I believed in the book, and there were wonderful folks out there who let me know they’d been touched by reading it.
Then the other night, my husband and I participated in an open Mic event at my church. A handful of folks of all ages and experience levels got up and sang songs and played instruments. It was wonderful! I loved sharing our original music, and listening to other folks as they shared their favorite music. I felt bathed in the warmth of music-loving community!
The next day, I attended the Kentucky Women’s Book Festival and got to hear the amazing writer, Sallie Bingham, speak. A prolific author in a variety of genres, she encouraged us to “write our stories, no matter what.” She went on to say, “Don’t worry so much about getting published. That’s pretty much a matter of luck.”
And you know what? She’s absolutely right. I’ve been fortunate to have some publishing success (along with lots of disappointments!). But I know plenty of writers whose work is every bit as good, if not better, who have yet to sell that first novel.
We really can’t control the results of our work in the marketplace. All we can do is focus on what really matters, which is doing the work. And in that, there is such pleasure and meaning.