And we're back! What?! Two blog posts in two days?!?
What is going on!??!?
I'll tell you what--exciting things! If you haven't had a chance to check out yesterday's short and sweet post, I'll give you an even shorter and sweeter recap: in the coming weeks, I'm relaunching this blog/site, and I'm hoping that you and anyone you know who's looking to recreationally flex their creative muscles will help me out with one of a few new features I'll be launching. Exciting, yes? Yes. It is. More to come on that in a few weeks. First, we've got a site to migrate...
Actually, no. First, I think I owe you a real post. Enough site news for now. I want to talk about something I think is pretty important. New years = fresh beginnings = reflection and all that junk, but if I'm being honest, the topic I want to touch on today isn't something brought on by the new year. It's something that's been on my mind for weeks. Months, really. Or longer. It's the result of the past year and beyond.
I want to talk about being humble--specifically, the importance of being humble. I'm sure you've heard people speak on this topic before. People who are probably more qualified to speak on it to boot. But it's something that, I think, has really helped me survive the past few years, and while I'm going to frame it in the context of my writing journey, I think it can easily be applied to a lot of things in life.
During my years working in publishing, and time spent trying to get published myself, I've encountered A LOT of aspiring authors, and subsequently, I've witnessed heaps of determination, frustration, and more cursing the universe than I could ever keep track of. The road to publication is long and full of devastation. We all have our bad days. We all have days when we feel like we should give up and move to Alaska to rehabilitate baby seals, leaving the brick walls that stand in our way behind forever. We all have days when we ask, "what if, no matter how hard I work, my dream never happens?" And yeah, we all have days when we look at the other guy, the guy who's found success and wonder, "Why him and not me?"
There's no concise answer to that question. It's a foggy, swirling cloud of half-explanations. Luck. Timing. Personal connections. The list goes on and on. The thing is, the answers don't matter. What matters is that you find a way to stay humble, even if you have fleeting moments when that jealous question crosses your mind. Staying humble will keep that question from gnawing away at your ambition, your creative drive, and your ability to just. keep. going. Being humble turns "I'm amazing. My book is a million times better than half the crap that's being published so where's my book deal?" into "Do you still want this? Yes? Then keep working at it. Believe it will happen and keep going." It prevents you from becoming the one thing no author should ever let him/herself become--entitled.
By focussing on staying humble, I can honestly say (and this still comes as a surprise to me from time to time), I'm always genuinely happy to read announcements from author friends who've finally sold their first book--or second, or third. Seriously. It's not even in that grit-your-teeth "Oh, I'm so happy for you........." kind of way, but in the way where I find myself truly celebrating the successes of my peers. I can't tell you how wonderful and freeing that feels. Envy is a terrible thing. It can and will eat away at your soul. But to be able to honestly revel in the successes of others is refreshing and inspiring. It makes me want to work harder at my own writing so I can get there too! And, unexpectedly, I find it helps with the frustration that comes with rejections. It reminds me the dream is possible, and sometimes, someone else's good news is a welcome change when I'm feeling down about my own lack of good news.
But perhaps the most important thing about teaching yourself to stay humble, is that it's a skill you can use for life. Even if you do accomplish that elusive goal you've been chasing, staying humble will continue to serve you well. It keeps your head on straight (and believe me, you'll be doing anyone who works with you in the future a huge favour by keeping your head on straight). So take a deep breath, and remember, things have a way of working out. You already have a lot to be thankful for. Try to keep that in mind, even as you're striving for more. Everything that happens next is just icing on the cake.