Shake Your Fist Into the Wine
Contributor
Written by
Tess Hardwick
June 2011
Contributor
Written by
Tess Hardwick
June 2011

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. Ralph Waldo Emerson

I went into the hospital to have Ella an ordinary woman. I came out the next day bigger, bolder, my heart expanded with intense love for this baby girl I held in my arms. But there was another thing there. An unwelcome guest that comes with the love.

Guilt.

It's here for good; is present in every minute of every day. I can’t get away from it, that gnawing sense that I’ve done something damaging to my daughters with my stupidity, lack of focus, or just simply being me. I know I’m not alone. All my mom friends say the same thing. No matter what we do, there is always something to feel guilty about.

I’ve spent a lot of the last four years feeling guilty about my work. I rearranged my life to begin the arduous process of taking myself seriously as a writer and it changed my children’s lives dramatically. We moved them out of the neighborhood they loved, switched schools, forfeited family vacations and many other activities they enjoyed. All for me and my dream.

Ah, the guilt. But there's something else too.

I was reminded today of the first time I sent my manuscript out to a big New York agent, a contact a friend in the business was kind enough to arrange for me. Without too much detail, he hated it. And he didn’t just reject it gently, like, “It’s just not for me,” as a few others did later, but rather sent a scathing and nasty note that seemed actually hostile, like I’d insulted him with my lack of writing skill. To add further injury, he sent along even more notes from an additional reader that were equally negative.

It hurt. A lot. I’d hoped for so much, had dared to dream and came away crushed. I sat on the bathroom floor crying on my knees that night, hiding from my children, not wanting them to see me so defeated.

The next day I spoke with a friend over the phone; a dear man and supporter. After a soul-searching night, I told him, I was committed to two things. One, I was not giving up. Two, I was going to take the feedback and learn from it. My friend then said something to me I’ll never forget. The biggest reason to try again is because of what it communicates to your girls. To fail and try again. This is all they need to know about life.

He’s right. Inevitably, whatever path we choose, it involves rejections and criticism. The secret is that you must get up and shake your fist into the wind. You must stay the course. You must go back to work.

My girls may not understand it now, but someday they will. At some point during a bathroom floor moment of their own, I’ll tell them about the tears that soaked my jeans. I'll tell them how much it hurt, how I questioned whether to go on, how humiliated I felt.

Because they’ll remember I got up from the floor and went back to work. And that will tell them everything they need to know.

 

 

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Comments
  • Cyndi McErlane

    OH MY GOSH!!!!  You just put into words exactly how I have been feeling in my life right now.....you're pretty awesome, there, Tess!