I attended a meeting Sunday evening with a large group of young single adults. I’m not single anymore, but I do like to think that I still fit into the young adult category, so I went. (It also helped that I had an invitation.)
I don’t know about you, but it seems like I filter
everything these days through my writer--and especially my querying writer--ears.
So even though the speaker was talking about the differences between being
single and being married, I heard a talk about the differences between having
and not having an agent.
One thing stood out to me. During a particularly low period
in her life, when she was struggling with her singlehood and certain she was
never, ever going to achieve her goal of marrying a wonderful man, an unexpected
thought occurred to her: “If you can’t handle the challenges of being single,
what makes you think you can handle the challenges of being married?”
Of course, the thought that came to me was, “If I can’t
handle the challenges of not having an agent, what makes me think I can
handle the challenges of actually having one?”
We’re all pretty familiar with the challenges of not having
an agent. We worry that our writing isn’t good enough, that we’ll never live
our dreams. Personally, I worry that everyone will think I’m just a hack, that
I’ll have this relatively interesting blog but nothing to back it up. I worry
that you’ll think less of me because I don’t have an agent, because no one from
the industry has given me some mystical seal of approval.
It’s ridiculous, I know, and I’ve worked long and hard to
root this melon-sized lump of pride out of my system. I can honestly say my friends’
successes no longer feel like my failures. (Okay, maybe I feel a little jealous
for, like, two minutes, but no more than two minutes, I swear!) My point is,
the challenges aren’t going to get any easier from here (hello, negative reviews
and one-star Amazon ratings!), and if I can’t master these ones, then maybe I’m
not ready to take that next step. As Irv says in Cool Runnings, that old Disney
movie about the Jamaican bobsled team, “If you’re not enough without it, you’ll
never be enough with it.”
I know this is one of those oft-repeated themes on writing-related blogs, but I'm going to repeat it one more time. Instead of dreaming about and wishing for the challenges of tomorrow, we'd make better use of our time by learning how to master the challenges of today. That way, when those challenges we've been dreaming about do come, we'll know just how to handle them.