Let the work sustain you

What is your goal? Your end game in your writing? You might be struggling to get an agent, get a contract, get five thousand sales. These things can be driving you forward, giving you purpose day to day.

Or, like, me they could be driving you crazy.

I have been querying on and off for several years, with several different manuscripts. I have felt highs and lows. many many lows. Putting out twenty queries and getting nothing back at all. Getting rejections that came back almost as soon as I hit send. Waiting and waiting and waiting only for that two line rejection to come through half a year later.

It was my goal. What I was working for every day.

And, honestly, it sucked.

There is nothing wrong with querying, with wanting an agent, to get published, with having something that you are working toward, but when you set your sights on that mountain, it is easy to lose track of why you are doing it, and it is easy to feel like every day it doesn’t happen is a waste of time.

Then you spend you time analyzing why it’s not working. You didn’t write to the trends. You don’t have the right voice. You need to cut your word count down. You just are not good enough.

Then it sucks even more.

The last year has been strange for me. I started setting personal goals, against myself instead of career goals that I need other people to fulfill for me. I challenged myself to write short stories again. I pushed myself to edit several manuscripts. I queried, a little, and then I let things go. I got some good responses and some rejections. I said thank you for positive feedback even when it didn’t come with an offer.

I still got rejections. Plenty of rejections, and I will not say I didn’t care. But it didn’t crush me. Because when I get an agent, then what?

I need a publisher. and I get a publisher, then what?

I need a great book sales. I get a great sales and then what?

I mean, does it ever reach a point where now I am suddenly satisfied? Where i have suddenly hit that magical goal where I know I am validated in all this work I have done?

I mean, I  dunno. Maybe. I’ll let you know when I get there. If such a state does exist, it’s a long way off. To be completely honest, if I’m not happy with what I am doing now, with my work, then I don’t think I can ever be validated by someone else.

This past year I have been trying to hold off on the hard goals and make my day to day work of writing great shit my priority. It hasn’t always been easy but I’ve seen a big improvement in how I feel about what I do and where I am going.

My writing has gotten better. I’ve made awesome writing friends. I published a piece in an anthology. I’ve created some work I’m really proud of.

I am not THERE at whatever hard goal I arbitrarily set for myself as the pinnacle of success. Because I don’t think there is a pinnacle. There is no end point to this game. Never a place where you plant your flag and say, I’m done. I made it. Now I can enjoy my life and be happy.

Happiness is now, in the work you do. In knowing that everything will come when you no long need it to validate you. When the work you do is what sustains you, you know that you can keep going, no matter what.

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