A few months back I called my shot. I shared my dream of submitting a book proposal to Hay House publishing company in hopes I’d be selected for a book deal. This past week I learned I didn’t get it.
I’m not going to sugar coat this. I’m bummed. I believe my stories about loss have a place in this world. I felt called to tell these stories and had hoped an editor would agree.
It wasn’t meant to be.
I’m not sure exactly how many people submitted but I’m sure everyone who did submit, had an equally compelling story to share. After all, I’m a strong believer that we all have a story worth sharing. Regardless, rejection sucks.
If I were a motivational poster, this is where I’d say I pinned that rejection letter up on my wall and used that to motivate myself to write a NYT best selling book. I’m not. Plus, I didn’t even get a rejection letter. Instead, they only acknowledged the winners allowing the rest of us to just know our proposals were valued but not good enough to market to society at-large.
I ate some imitation cheese whiz and ritz crackers (still haven’t mastered the whole no emotional eating thing). But, on the very same day, someone or something (still haven’t mastered the whole spirituality thing either) intervened and served up a conversation to me in my podcast feed. Cheryl Strayed was featured on We Can do Hard Things.
So many things about Chery’s story resonates with me. I too lost my mother at that pivotal age where one’s trying to define ourselves, and while my spinning out of control didn’t include heroin or the Pacific Crest Trail, it did include many miles on the Superior Hiking Trail and some questionable moments in my 20s.
In this perfectly timed conversation, Cheryl shares how writers often ask her how do you go about writing the next great American Novel as if there is some formula to crack. Instead, Cheryl explains, the answer is quite simple. You don’t. You just sit down and write. Someday, if you remain true to your story, it might resonate with some people and if you are really lucky, many people.
In other words, like so many things in life, you must do the work. There is no shortcut. There is no magic bullet, potion or quick fix. Instead, you just have to keep showing up and doing the work.
The mediocre runner in me understands the concept all too well. I’d rather have a shelf full of self-published stories that a handful of friends and strangers have enjoyed, than no books at all. Just like I enjoy my wall of medals for finishing last versus sitting on my couch wondering what if. As disappointed as I am in this moment, I know the only pathway is to keep writing.
Here’s to the opportunity to write many more stories and a world where sharing them with the world is even an option. So, I’m here to call my next shot. I’ll spend the next month editing my chapters and refining my book proposal. In September, I’ll send this proposal to publishers willing to bet on an unsigned author. If and when the rejection letters flow in, I’ll self-publish again next year. My second book will be on a shelf. The pathway to get there may not be clear but the end will be similar.
It isn’t easy. It isn’t pretty. But, the price of admission to a life well-lived isn’t either.