When I first began to work on IF I BRING YOU ROSES, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of my ambition. I recall how I stood in the middle of my office surrounded by all the books that I loved. How could I ever hope to achieve what Anton Chekhov, Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald had? I was a mere mortal. I couldn’t think of how to start so I prayed—for guidance to research and learn all that I needed to know to tell my story and—for the talent to write it. I should also have prayed for faith. It would take ten years from that day in my office to have a published novel. But, perhaps, faith is something that can only be attained by experiencing failure and refusing to be cowed by it.
I could write about many instances when my writing wasn’t going well or when my novel was rejected in various forms by agents and editors, but instead, I would rather celebrate those failures. They goaded me to work until I had a novel of which I am proud and to finally achieving my goal of becoming a published author. In those periods of failure, I sought comfort in these wise words:
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
I followed Beckett’s advice and the nature of my rejection letters became more encouraging praising my writing and story. It helped ease the pain of rejection and I kept writing. Over time, I learned to trust myself as a writer. Sentences clanged in my ears when they needed to be rewritten. I began to get a feel for when a story or a chapter was or wasn’t working. I could hear the voices of my characters more clearly and became adept at depicting individual inflections and cadences. Each accomplishment led to another. I could imagine my character in a physical setting even if it was a place where I had never been or in a time when I wasn’t yet born. I developed the patience necessary to discover my story. I learned that I loved to write even if I didn’t have a guarantee that anyone else would read it. I would write from the heart and then I would let go.
By the time I finally got an agent, I had become more assured that I had a story to tell. I can only hope that others thought so too.
She Writes Amigas, this is my last Countdown to Publication Post. Next Wednesday, I will share my first week as a published author. It has been my privilege to write a post each of these past eight weeks. When I first committed to writing the Countdown posts, I worried about whether I had something to say to other writers. I had only written fiction and I decided to approach each post as a personal essay. I hoped that by writing about something important to me I might be able to find topics of interest to my readers. I never dreamed how many of you would write to offer encouragement or help. Since I’m not part of a writers group, it has meant so much to me to be part of the She Writes community. I am humbled by the generosity of you, my sister writers. Thank you.
She Writes Amigas, has a writer at She Writes shown you particular generosity?
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