This is Pillar 8, the last pillar in this series on the Writing Life. Below I share three of the lessons of life I’ve learned pursuing this dream and calling. I’ve learned so much more but sharing them would require a book.
Life Isn’t Fair
Or, perhaps more accurately, life doesn’t always go the way we want it to. We’re the first one cut from the baseball team. The girl of our dreams turns us down for the prom. The promotion at work goes to someone else. The list could go on and on.
How do we handle this? Do we let the disappointment pull us down? Do we withdraw into a shell and make it thicker to the point where we never risk again?
- Get over it. Accept that life is not fair and will never be fair until we get to heaven.
- Learn from it. After my emotions have cooled, I try to look back at the incident with more objectivity and prayer to see what I can take from what happened and apply it to similar and different situations moving forward.
- Move on. Sometimes this takes longer than others. Sometimes, a reminder will happen years later and the old feelings of hurt and anger come surging back. And then I have to repeat the cycle. But it doesn’t last as long the second or third or eight time. Not always, anyway.
I’m Not in Control
But I am responsible for what I can control. I’m responsible for ensuring my car is properly maintained
so it doesn’t break down. If I don’t do my part, the car will eventually have a mechanical failure.
As a writer, I can’t control what an agent or publisher does with my manuscript. I can’t control what a reviewer says about my book. Or where the bookstore places it on a shelf.
I can and must control the quality of my writing. I can and must write the best book I am capable of.
My strategy here is to do all I can, whether it’s car maintenance or writing, to the best of my ability. And I pray for ideas and wisdom and all I need to give it my best. And I pray for favor and open doors once I send the manuscript on its way.
Suffering Is Good
I don’t like this one. I’ve never been enamored with the idea of suffering for my art. Yet suffering rejection has inspired me to get better at my writing, to take feedback, seek counsel and knowledge, and push forward to improving.
I know I’m a better writer now, and hopefully a better person from this journey in my calling. I’ve developed a thick skin, learned to discern the value of criticism, learned to apply knowledge to make improve my craft, and learned to give criticism constructively.
I’m not where I should be, but I’m getting closer.
What life lessons have you learned on your journey?