I’d tell you I’ve been busy but at this point it’s just repetitive. I will say… four short months until The Paris Apartment comes out. WOW!
Anyway. Last night I was catching up on blog reading while watching “A Football Life: Marty Schottenheimer” (LT and MartyBall in one season?! It’s like this one was made for me!) I read this post from The Debutante Ball. Their posts never fail to resonate, but I was flabbergasted (in a good way) by the following quote:
When you’re ready to quit you’re closer than you think.
OMG! I might’ve yelled this out loud, not using the acronym. So simple. So clear. So true.
Now, maybe it seems like a platitude. Something along the lines of “everything happens for a reason.” A positive, friendly little jab in the arm but without substance. So, being the analytical type that I am, I thought about it. Really thought about the words and why they might or might not be true. Why did this sentence so strike a chord? If I could’ve run a financial model on it, I’m sure I would’ve. The answer is, it’s true. There is a logic behind it.
Think of when you start something. I’m going to use writing, but really most anything would apply. I think back to those first few queries I sent out years (and years!) ago. How hopeful I was! How unjustifiably optimistic! Yes of course every agent would love my work, and thereafter every publishing house. Contracts for all!
Needless to say it didn’t work out that way, for that book, or even the book that followed. Here’s the thing. When you are starting something, you can’t really feel like a failure. You’re a newbie! Fresh at this! Those people getting book contracts? They started querying years ago! Years ago you hadn’t even contemplated writing a novel.
Then a year passes. Two, maybe more. People seem to have publishing contracts falling into their laps. People much more newbie-ish. Suddenly, you start to wonder. Maybe it’s not my stage in the timeline but me. (By the way, one might have similar thoughts when trying to procreate, but I digress).
At the start of the process you’re thinking, I’ll be an anomaly! Yes of course it takes a gazillion years and lots of heartbreak to be published, everyone knows that! But I will be different. A few years in, you think yes, I will be different. But in the other way.
I got close – so close. There was a book deal. Then the editor was fired and the house shelved the book. Then there was an auction which fell apart at the last minute because though editors love, love, loved the book, people didn’t know what to do with a male narrator who was also dead (this book will be published one day – I swear to it! Even if I have to do it myself! I read it the other week and it’s still my favorite).
The *close* is what makes you feel like a failure. Like you can’t get yourself over the finish line. You can be the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are terrible, or you can be the Chargers who almost make the playoffs every year, but just miss. Or, when they do make the playoffs, they go far but never all the way. My apologies but whenever I can make a Chargers analogy I will do so.
When you are closest, but not quite there, is exactly when you feel like it will never happen. You’ve traveled up the the timeline, but stopped just short. If I suddenly decided to become a professional figure skater and found little success (duh), I wouldn’t feel like a failure because it’s so out of the realm of possibility there’s no use fretting over it.
I have long believed, in writing and in life, the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is grit. It’s sticking with it, if you really want it, even when it’d be so much easier to give up (but really, would it? because probably it would not be). When you’ve put in the hours and the effort and every ounce of your patience and soul and you still can’t get there, oh my gosh, complete and total misery. I’ve been there. I’ve so been there. But here’s the thing. Because of the time and the tears you’re closer than you think. You’ve put in you 10,000 hours (or, 9,999). You feel like a failure. Because you are almost there.