Monday, May 7, 2012

Life Lessons

Have you ever wanted something so bad you’d do anything to get it? Have you ever worked night and day to get it only to find out your efforts were in vain?

I have. I’ve spent the last seven years trying to get a novel published. The publishing game isn’t even following the same rules now as it was when I started out. Seven years ago, digital books were the wave of the future. Now they’re the norm and paperback books seem to be heading the way of the record album or eight track.

For seven years, I’ve queried agents and publishers with the hope of being offered a contract. I’ve entered contests in an attempt to beef up my resume and all the while I’ve kept writing and kept at it. Sure, there have been times when I’ve wanted to quit, but this dream has been with me so long that it’s not in me to quit. Every time I fall down, I stand up and I stand at a crossroads. I ask myself if I have it in me to keep going or if I should just let the dream die. So far, I’ve kept going.  

Something happened this weekend to remind me that I’m not alone in this struggle. My thirteen year old daughter failed to make the school cheerleading squad after trying out. She spent the week leading up to the tryouts pouring her heart and soul into practice. After four days of putting all her best efforts into learning, she went to the try out on Friday and waited more than three hours before her turn. She was in the last group to be called. By the time she’d been called, they’d changed the way the tryouts were structured. Rather than see three girls at a time, which was how it began, they were herding them in six at a time to speed up the process. Still, she did her routine and gave it all she had only to learn at 10:30AM the next morning, she hadn’t made it. Worse was that in her mind there were girls who did make it whom she felt she’d done better than.

I fully understood her heartbreak. The writer in me could identify with this unjust feeling. It still curls my toes when I see celebrities publishing novels without having to pay their dues. To this day, I find myself reading published novels and wondering how it is that I can’t break in when this piece of junk or that pile of garbage isn’t just published but on the best seller list.

I gave my daughter a choice. She could either quit cheer altogether, or she could push forward and not give up. You see, my daughter is also a competitive cheerleader and has a new season of that coming up. Failure to make the school squad didn’t mean the end of her cheer career. It just meant she had to watch her friends achieve something she couldn’t. My daughter’s response to these choices was: ‘Why should I give up? I love cheerleading?’ When I told her she could always skip the school squad and just stick to the competition cheer, she told me she intended to try out for and make the high school cheer squad. Kudos, and I hope she does.

I like to think maybe my perseverance in my literary endeavors has inspired her not to quit. Either way, I guess we both have some tough life lessons to learn about the heartache that comes from having your dream in someone else’s hands.

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