Today I submitted my samples chapters to four agents.
I feel so many conflicting emotions–terror, sadness, happiness, relief, pain, anxious, and peace. But this whole thing wasn’t about getting this piece accepted by an agent or about my book being published. That’s out of my hands, and publication, even if I get accepted, certainly won’t something that will happen any time soon. That’s not to say I don’t want it. This was not even about finishing this piece for later. This is about moving on. It’s done, it’s over. The book that I’ve been working on for eight years is finished to the best of my ability. To the BEST of my ability. Only time will tell if I’m returning to it in the future.
I learned so much from the experience of writing it. Within its pages are not just stories and characters but lessons. Lessons in crafting my own confidence and style, lessons in trusting myself, lessons in dealing with criticism, lessons in dealing with my ego and my old fixed mindset of perfectionism and black-and-white thinking. There were lessons in hope and faith, in doubt and despair, in craft and creativity. Lessons in being an artist living with uncertainty, and the thrilling and exciting things that happen when you take risks. Most recently, lessons in deadlines and how if I trust myself and stay disciplined, I can finish anything.
But one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from this whole experience, especially this week, is the lesson of letting go. I’ve spent so much time on it and yet I don’t know the characters anymore today than I did eight years ago. So much has changed, so many drafts, so many words written.
In a way, I’m glad it ended like this. If it was going well, if it was finally starting to click together and make some headway, I might be inclined to revisit it in the coming months. But it hasn’t been going well and it hasn’t clicked together and for some reason I can’t figure this book out.
In an old, negative way, I feel this is a failure. But I will not consider this a failure, because I’m moving on. It’s hard to explain to non-writers, but sometimes you just have to let it go because it will never be what you want it to be and you can’t see it becoming what it wants to be.
I mustn’t forget to feel proud of the work I’ve done over the years. I’ve literally changed my life for my art—going to bed early and not drinking and eating late to get enough sleep to get up at five in the morning to write before I head off to work. This has led to a healthier lifestyle physically by practicing mindfulness and meditation, yoga, and exercise. And this in turn has led to healthier psychological life of trying my best to drop all the bad and negative habits that have blocked me all these years, learning about positive affirmations and self-talk, and simply the makeup of my own thought processes. ALL this by making one simple decision to write before work. My life is better for it!
As I write this, I hear a train horn blare in the distance. A train horn blaring across the frozen Illinois fields is one of the last things that happens in my novel. I think it’s apropos that the Universe has give me this little bit of synchronicity. It’s what I call Kismet. It’s also called Closure.
I now close the book on this book. I don’t know what I’ll do next, but I can’t wait to dive in to so many other projects I’m excited about—my blog, my poetry, my short stories, maybe even a play. I’m definitely getting back to my Artist’s Way and relaxing and being more gentle with myself again for the next few weeks.
I am going to celebrate tonight by myself and then over the coming weeks with friends.
Quick story: The other day I was talking about moving on from my book with a coworker of mine. Another coworker, Johnny, walked in and asked what we were talking about. I downshifted into a metaphor to keep from having to go into my history as a writer and what was happening, replying, “Moving on. Movement. You have to move on from things. Because what’s better? Spending eight years making hundreds of rocking chairs? Or spending that same time making just one?” I expected him to agree with me. I’ve always looked at the craftsman point of view of making and creating, and I found this very idea to be the key for my next journey’s success. Johnny just nodded his head and said, “True, true. But what if making that one rocking chair taught you something about character that you never would’ve learned making all those other chairs? You know, when Will Smith was a kid, his dad had him build a wall for a whole year. When the year was up, Will asked him what he did it for. ‘For you. Now no one can tell you you can’t do anything in life if you just put your mind to it.’”
Now I know I can do anything. Thanks, Johnny.
Have a great day! I’ll write you later.
Create and Complete