I hit a wall this past weekend regarding agent rejections and the current status of my writing career. Normally, I take the rejections in stride. If I had learned to handle love rejections as well, I could've saved a lot of money in tissues. But every once in awhile, it gets to you, and you feel like no one is ever gonna like your stuff enough to beg you to let them represent you. You feel like no one would ever pay money to read your stuff, and even if they would, they won't because they're never going to know about it, or know you exist.
It's daunting: the vast list of agents, the varied submission guidelines, the money spent on stamps and letterhead, and the bold letters: not accepting new clients, the lists of magazines and literary journals and their submission guidelines, more money spent on stamps and letterhead, the contests, the conferences (and their fees), and so on.
I called my brother who, unfortunately, has had his fair share of rejections in his lifetime as a musician. I needed some wisdom and advice. And I needed my little crisis of faith to be heard by someone who wouldn't judge it.
"It sucks," he started. "Being an artist of any kind (and making a living) is really, really hard. But you have to stop thinking about the money and start thinking about why you're doing it."
The point was driven home further by my good friend Jesse, who talked about perseverence. "I didn't really get the concept of it ten years ago," he said. "But today it's much clearer to me."
I think I get it too. It's relentless, non-stop, follow-through. It's keeping your eye on the ball (the "ball" being "why you're doing it"). It's about shutting off the tv, not buying the double grande mocha decaf latte, and perhaps not writing in the blog so much. It's about sending out 100 query letters instead of 20, about following up on press releases and marketing. It's about giving something to the business rather than sitting back and waiting for someone to come to you.
So, when I take stock of my writing career, I need to ask myself, "Am I persevering?" and answer honestly. And honestly, today my answer is, "not enough." And maybe that's still sugar-coating it. Maybe an even more honest answer is "No." And I can't blame it on the demands of my job, or my financial situation, or anything else. So the question that follows is, "Do you want it enough? Do you know why you're doing it?"
I have to make a choice, every day, to be a writer.
Today, I say, Yes.