It’s a new year and I have cause for celebration. On January 5th my debut novel CURIO releases from Blink, Zondervan’s general market young adult fiction line. But I can remember so many New Year’s Days when I faced the crushing question, “Should I keep writing?”
In fact, one January I received a particularly devastating rejection. I’d hung my hopes on this one person’s opinion and things were looking good. . .until they were not. I cried. I canceled plans. My husband brought home wine and flowers and chocolate (not his first emergency rejection care package.) I may have taken non-medically necessary Benadryl and retired to my room like a Victorian woman overcome by vapors, unexpected emotion before tea time, or improperly polished silver.
After allowing me an appropriate amount of time to grieve, my husband gave me the most important piece of advice. I know you’ve already heard it. Someone has said it to you at a conference or in an industry blog. You’ve probably said it to yourself. And I’m sorry, but I’m gonna say it again. Here are the words Kory gave me when I was down in my hole of self-doubt and food-medicating:
Write because you love to write.
Can it really be that simple? Well, yes and also, no. Part of being an artist is wanting to share your creation with others—wanting to see the thoughts, feelings, and experiences you put out in the world returned to you with a resounding ping of “Me too.” The pursuit of publication is the natural outgrowth of our desire for connection.
|Curio by Evangeline Denmark|
But if you can’t write in the darkness for the pure love of burning words, then search for your flame in another art form.
I’m not talking about taking breaks or taking time to grieve rejections or taking the time life demands of us. And I’m not saying you should call it quits when you face obstacles, rejections, and self-doubt. What I’m saying is, in those hard times curl into your creativity, let go of others’ opinions, and write fearlessly.
I took my husband’s advice. I wrote CURIO in a place of reckless inspiration. I allowed no shoulder beings—angels or demons—any ear time. I used words without second-guessing. I scared myself with story, and I kept writing.
And it worked. CURIO ended up being the novel that caught an editor’s eye. My journey to publication took a lot longer than I expected—ten years in fact. And it’s not over. I haven’t arrived. There is no “arriving” in this industry. There is only the next step, the next word on the page, the next adventure.
On New Year’s Day I had the old goals and resolutions conversation with three of my closest writer friends—all of them traditionally published. Every single one of them mentioned a deep longing to return to the joy of writing regardless of where their professional journeys took them, and I was reminded once again that love of the craft is the lifeblood of storytelling.
This is the truth I come back to again and again and the comfort I take when I’m not sure why I’m still doing this—if not writing feels like death, then there isn’t really a choice, is there?
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