I may have to do some research to find out if Einstein’s Theory of Relativity explains how quickly time passes when Conall is at nursery…
Though I know from subtle spying that my two-year-old is fine five minutes after I drop him off, there is nothing more painful than hearing him scream and reach for me as the nursery teacher carries him away. It’s never easy to let go of our babies (literal and figurative) so they can go out and grow in the world; and that segues nicely to the conclusion of last Friday’s post about admitting hard truths to ourselves and others. The truth I’ve finally accepted is that it’s time to let go of my first book and send it, too, out into the world.
I haven’t talked honestly to many people about the emotional odyssey that has been this book. It has given me an identity and been a source of hope that I could have the creative life I imagine. I’ve toiled over countless drafts and celebrated its “completion” three times. I’ve felt the ecstasy of achievement when an agent has asked to read the full manuscript; and I’ve felt heart-wrenching pain when the rejections have come. I’ve struggled with the embarrassment of answering considerate friends who ask me how it’s going, trying to find a positive spin for what looked to me as the personal failure of not yet being published.
During the past six months, I’ve been learning a great deal about what’s known as mindset research. (I’m sure I’ll be writing about this a great deal… so be prepared). Dr. Carole Dweck of Stanford University has defined two mindsets (from her website):
“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.”
Until I started reading the research, I definitely had an entrenched “fixed” mindset. I took every book rejection as evidence of lack of talent and an inability to succeed. Only once did it occur to me to ask an agent for feedback so that I could improve my work. And because I took every rejection as a reflection of who I am and what I can achieve, I struggled to stay motivated and to put in the necessary effort to achieve my great dream of publication.
Finally, I understand… I understand how hard one must work to achieve one’s goals. I understand that a rejection isn’t necessarily personal or an indictment of a book’s potential. And, most importantly, I understand how to grow from a challenge and look at it as an opportunity.
So, doesn’t it sound like I should be redoubling my efforts and digging in to make my book happen? Well, here’s why I’m not… exactly.
I wrote the very first draft about ten years ago. I was a different person then in a million ways; over the decade my interestes have evolved, my style has changed and I now have a clear idea about what I want to be saying.
Also, here’s another part of the “truth” I’ve recently realized: I wrote my book as a fantasy novel, not because I wanted to write about a different world, but because I lacked the courage to write about the spiritual and philosophical ideas in which I believe in a “real world” context. I hid myself in the fantasy.
Well, that’s certainly changed.
I’m ready now to begin a project that truly does represent me as a writer and a person. A project I will be able to take to agents and publishers with passionate enthusiasm.
Still, I love my first book the way one loves a dear friend one doesn’t see very often. I enjoy it, believe in it and want it to succeed. It’s just I’ve moved on… and it should too.
The world of “self-publishing” has changed a great deal in the past few years. It used to seem to me to be an admittance of “failure” (there’s that word again), but with the help of articles like this (recently in the New York Times), Amazon Signs Up Authors, Writing Publishers Out of Deal, and the encouragement of friends and family (thank you, Jim Merikangas), I’m ready to chart a new path for my first true writing endeavor.
So, it is with great pride and excitement that I announce THE BOOK UNLOCKED will be available for download to Kindle in time for the holidays! (wink) Please be prepared for some shameless self-promotion. I promise that won’t be ALL the blog is about. But I should mention that the title of this blog – Temple of Inspiration – comes from the book. Intrigued? Hope so!
Thanks again to everyone who has encouraged me. As the year begins to draw to a close and I think about all the things I’d wanted to accomplish, I hope this decision turns out to be something for which to remember 2011! I’m off to pick up Conall now. Funny… it’s always difficult to send him off, but I know he’s just fine once I let go. Something to think about.