“Any creative pursuit judges its artists harshly and swings wildly. Don’t let the gatekeepers take away your joy of creating. It’s not about them ultimately. It’s about you and the page.” – Heather Webb
It was this snippet in an online conversation that made me stop, made me re-read, made me ponder. We would like to think that it will be different for us, we have probably all imagined how it is different for us. We think of the agents who will swoon over our query, request a full, and swoon again. We think of the editor who will fall in love with our writing, the sales teams who will fall in love with our writing, the readers who will fall in love with our writing. We imagine the lines of people who will gather desirous for a chance to have just 30 seconds with us, to swoon over our books, to take pictures, to brag to their friends that they got to meet us.
People in the querying trenches have felt the sting of a form rejection. Or of a full manuscript wherein the reader “didn’t connect with the story like they’d hoped.”
Then there are the edits suggested by the agent who loved the story enough to take us on as a client, who then ask for changes to the story we thought they loved enough to take it as it is.
And this chain of doubt and insecurity adds another link when it comes to editors and being on submission to publishing houses. There are several ways within an editing house where the yes can become a maybe can become a no.
Finally, in the world of online reviews and the ease of accessibility that many readers with writers wherein they can tag them, regardless of if the feeling about a book is stellar or lackluster.
It can be enough to drive a person crazy. It can be enough to make a writer want to quit.
When this happens (and, I’m sorry dear reader/writer, it is when), we need to go back to what Heather Webb said. We need to go back to what made us pull out a clean notebook, open a new document, jot down ideas about characters and setting and plots. Yes, we have our dreams and goals and imaginations. But, in the beginning, we started a story. Before we really thought about whether the story would sell or analyzed a myriad of arcs, we started with the spark of a story. And if we think about that, we can probably all say that the spark of story came from our heart, that it was small, but grew, stretching until it filled the whole of us, stretching until we reached out to find others who knew of this, who had their own spark, who drafted word after word for the love of story.
This is why, I think, so many very accomplished writers ask, plead and beg us, when querying, when on submission, when working between edits, when launching, when reviews keep coming in, to write, write, write.
The spark that started us is enough to hold off the gatekeeping winds if we will be dedicated to nurturing it.
Tasha Seegmiller believes in the magic of love and hope, which she weaves into every story she creates. A co-founder of Thinking Through Our Fingers, she is the managing editor of the writing-focused website as well as a contributor to Writers in the Storm. She is passionate about helping women nourish their creativity and is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, where she serves as a board member. The former high school English teacher now assists in managing the award-winning project-based learning program (EDGE) at Southern Utah University. Tasha married a guy she’s known since she was seven and is the mom of three teens. She is represented by Annelise Robey of Jane Rotrosen Agency.