The Highs and Lows of a Writer’s Life
It was a glorious day. I was basking in all the love and encouragement from blog readers. My inbox was filled with wonderful comments about my new website and redecorated blog. I was beginning to get positive reviews on my debut novel The Preacher’s Bride.
The writer’s life was looking pretty good. All that hard work was paying off. I could take a breather and enjoy the view for a little while.
Just as I was getting comfortable with a fresh cup of coffee and clicking through the pages of my lovely new website for the hundredth time, I got an email from my editor at Bethany House. He wanted to arrange a phone call to discuss Book 2 which I’d turned in a month ago, and he said, “We’ll be talking about a pretty significant rewrite, but I’m confident it’s a rewrite you’ll be able to make shine.”
In a matter of a few seconds, I plummeted off the high peak I’d been standing upon. And I crash-landed into a deep cavern. Darkness swept away the bright joy I’d felt only moments earlier.
“Significant rewrite?” What did that mean?
Surely he was mistaken. Book 2 was my newest love. It was the best book I’d written yet (or so I’d thought!). I’d spent months working on it, sacrificing my time, pouring my heart into it. And now my precious Book 2 would need a significant rewrite? Why? What had gone wrong?
Crushed, I struggled to hold back the tears.
My experience is fairly typical, isn’t it? We’ve all had those really high moments where we’re feeling on top of the world. Then something happens that topples us into the pit.
We might win a contest then fail to garner the attention of an agent. We get great feedback from one critique partner, but another can’t seem to find anything right. We have an agent ask to see more of our manuscript, but we don’t hear back from her for months. Perhaps an editor takes our book to committee, but then nothing happens.
My wise mother recently gave me some advice. She told me that there will always be really high praise and then also the really negative. It’s best to discard both and take what’s in the middle. The really highs and the really lows are often the exaggerations, the extremes, the ones that will either flatter us too much or bring unnecessary discouragement.
Here are just a few things I’m telling myself as I try to navigate the highs and lows of the writer’s life:
*Remember the path leads through both valleys and peaks. I can’t get to the next peak without going through the valley first. Isn’t that true of writing and life?
*Stand up straight and keep walking. When I’m in the valley I can look back at the past peak to remind myself of where I’ve been to give me incentive. But ultimately, I have to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward, even if the next high point isn’t in sight yet.
*Share the journey with a few who understand. Not everyone is going to be able to come along side us, but hopefully we can find friends we can trust, those willing to hear our greatest fears and highest joys, those who encourage us, but also help us stay grounded.
How’s your writing journey been lately? Have you had to weather the extreme highs and the discouraging lows? What helps you navigate through them?
TheDoctorsLady* * * (book by Jody Hedlund)
Jody Hedlund is a bestselling author of historical fiction published by Bethany House. She did the rewrite her editor requested, and The Doctor’s Lady recently released to rave reviews.