Buckle your seat belt. Pull down that harness. Make sure you're strapped in and get ready for the roller coaster ride that is the writer's life. There will be high highs: your first contract, a contest win, a five-star review.
But you know the saying about everything that goes up. I was recently at an amusement park with my family. My teenage daughter convinced me to go on a coaster called the Griffon. Mind you, I'm afraid of heights. That roller coaster took forever to reach the top. I chanced to open my eyes when we stopped climbing. We were way up there.
Guess what happened next? Yep, the coaster went down. As in a nosedive. As in I strained against that harness.
Writing isn't all that different. In addition to the ups, there will be downs. A rejection letter, a one star review, a publishing house deciding not to renew your contract. If you write, you will face at least one, and probably all, of these situations.
As we descended from that great height, I held on to that harness with everything I had. No one was going to pry my fingers off of it.When you're writing life doesn't go the way you want it to, or imagined that it would, that's the time to hold on with all of your might. That's the time to cling to the Lord and to trust in him. Readers, contest judges, and publishers may all be fickle, but the Lord never is. He is constant. And while you may not have seen the downside of that hill coming, he did. And he knows what's around the next bend.
This might be a time in which he is stretching and growing you, both as a writer and a person. Take the time to step back and evaluate your work. How could you make it better? What could you do differently? What do you have to learn yet? Instead of seeing rejection, see it as a time of growth. This is also the time to step back and evaluate your relationship with the Lord. What should you be doing differently? What does he want to teach you? How can you grow in him?
Though you may not see it at the time, disappointment might ultimately mean opportunity. Be open to what the Lord has in store for you. Even though one editor rejects your manuscript, another may love it. Even though your relationship with your agent didn't work out, there may be an agent better suited to you out there. Even though you got a one star review, the next one might be glowing.
Disappointment might also mean that the time is not right. The Lord's timing is always perfect, far better than ours. We know what we want, and we want it now. But that's not how God works. He knows the right time, the perfect time for that big sale, for that next contract, for that contest win. Again, trust is essential here. Keep working, keep honing your craft, keep plugging away at that keyboard. Learn, grow, stretch yourself. And when the time is right, you'll look back and see his hand through all of the ups and downs.
When I stepped off of that roller coaster, it had been quite a ride. In the end, though, I was glad I had accompanied my daughter. It was worth it. And so will be the ride that we call writing.
How do you deal with disappointment when it comes your way?
Overcoming Disappointment: when writing gets you down
Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels and prairie romance novellas. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their two daughters. Her son is a U.S. Marine. She enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her blog, The Story behind the Story, at www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), and LinkedIn. She is also a regular contributor to the Pencildancer blog and the Midwest Almanac blog.