I live at the grace of a river known to flood, at the edge of a pasture that watches my life’s dramas with a serene indifference. I live at the grace of unreality, in the worlds I create in my head; in the belief I have in the relationship between words and me.
This faith is not an unshakable one. It lives with the success of a phrase. It falters and fails at the whim of a paragraph. It is fickle; it treats me differently in evening than in morning light.
We live, at once, in the privacy of our work, in the need to have it read, in the opinions of others. The perfect pitch of words and story that we labor so hard to develop is no guarantee that others will hear the music the same way.
What is the difference between good and half-good; saleable and unsaleable?
The author of “The Help” was declined by 61, agents. Mary Doria Russell, in her wonderful book “The Sparrow”, was declined by 31. The number of agents who have failed to recognize works that have gone on to become deep-listed books is, sadly, legendary.
I have not been tough. I’ll admit it. After years of writing (and I’m talking about fiction, here, not advertising), my skin has not thickened—especially not in light of recent events. I have set the hunt aside for the moment: Right now, the word “no” is not a word I am willing to hear.
It’s not as if I’ve been turned away by a bunch of folks. Just the opposite, in fact. Not even half-a-handful have sent me on my way. Still, I am waiting for my life to right itself before I start the search again. I am clearing a space in the mental clutter to give my nerve a place to flex its muscles.
For each of you with a carved-in-stone sense of yourself…you who never doubt…you who pick up your faith in youself, brush it off and move ahead: Bless you. How do you do it?
Some of us live at the grace of the day. And who knows what will happen tomorrow.