Handling Disappointment

by Steve Laube

Businessman looking at his laptop

I do not like to experience disappointment. I do not like rejection, even when it isn’t my personal project being turned down. I do not like to be the bearer of bad news.

And yet I do experience disappointment, rejection, and the telling of bad news…every week. That is the nature of the arts.

The arts (meaning music, writing, dance, and painting) is comprised of thousands of hours of practice; long days of solitude; truckloads of self-doubt; in a world where everyone is a critic.

However, I am inspired by the recitation of the failures of Abraham Lincoln during the 26 years BEFORE he was elected President of the United States. During those 26 years he:

Lost his job.
Defeated for state legislature.
Failed in business.
Sweetheart died.
Had nervous breakdown.
Defeated for Speaker.
Defeated for nomination for Congress.
Lost renomination.
Rejected for land officer.
Defeated for U.S. Senate.
Defeated for nomination for Vice President.
Again defeated for U.S. Senate.

I find that list invigorating. Twenty-six years ago I was a young bookstore manager and our youngest child had not yet been born. In these ensuing years I experienced many disappointments and failures and yet God has blessed our family in so many ways (and our oldest was married just two weekends ago).

If you get slapped with a rejection letter today.

[“Woe is me! For the Lord has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.” Jeremiah 45:3]

If you are told by your agent that your latest proposal is flat and needs work.

[“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15]

If your editor goes on a rampage and takes a machete to your manuscript.

[“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character . . .” Romans 5:3-4]

If your self-talk begins shouting the word “Loser” in a shrill voice.

[“As I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless . . . like chasing the wind” Ecclesiastes 2:11].

If any of these things hit you, remember:

“Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

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Write That Novel!

This question is from a writer who follows my Facebook business page. I have permission to use her question as a blog post:

I like to write, but am racked with doubt so I quit. How do you motivate your writers to finish?

I would say to set a goal. Look at your schedule. How many words do you think you can write in a day? If you write 1000 words a day, you will have the first draft of a novel in three months. A thousand words adds up to four pages. That’s it! Most people can write four pages a day. But if you truly can’t, go for 500 words, or two pages, a day. Writing a novel in six months is still a respectable pace. Write something, even if you know you’ll have to edit and revise. In fact, I worry about any writer who doesn’t revise — oh wait. I don’t know any. The point is, get something on paper so you will have material to work with. Some writers tell me they enjoy editing more than the initial writing.

If you want to move even faster and write within a community, note that November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo has the goal of encouraging writers to complete a novel in a month. Here is a link to a site written at the end of last year’s event with a lot of tools to help you participate.

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Kick Discouragement to the Curb

I don’t know about you, but I loved Steve’s blog post on Monday, When the Outlook is Bleak. People out there are HURTING.

I was with a friend a few days ago, a best-selling author who was battling an especially difficult edit. Difficult because the edits weakened the book rather than strengthened it. She’d uttered a series of gut-deep sighs, read me changes that I agreed didn’t make sense, and finally sat there, shaking her head.

And then she stopped. Straightened. Fixed me with a somber gaze and said:

“Today, in this very moment, someone is sitting in the doctor’s office, receiving the worst news of their life.”

I started. “What?”

She drew a deep breath. “At times like this, I have to restore my perspective. I have to tell myself that somewhere, right at this moment, a mother is saying good-bye to a dying child. A family is losing a home to foreclosure or disaster. In light of all of that, what does a difficult edit matter?”

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Three Steps to Freedom!

It’s The Most Wonderful/Terrible Time of the Year

It comes every year, and every year we wait for it with a mixture of excitement and dread. No, I’m not talking about taxes.

I’m talking about the award season.

From the ECPA Book of the Year awards to the Christy’s, the Genesis to the RITA, the Golden Heart to the Carol, and all the gazillion contests and awards in-between, online groups, Facebook, Twitter, and more are buzzing with the news of who finaled and who didn’t, who was nominated and who wasn’t. It’s a heady time for those chosen; a difficult and even painful time for those not so blessed.

This year has been especially interesting to me as a number of the books I acquired and edited over the last year or so have garnered several nominations for prestigious awards. I’m delighted for these writers, because I know how hard they’ve worked, and how talented they are. But I know, too, that those not getting happy news have also worked hard, are also talented. And I know that so many of us find ourselves smiling through the ache inside, congratulating our friends, knowing we should be happy for them, but all-too-aware of that nagging “Why not me??” in our gut.

So what’s a writer to do?

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How Things Used to Be

My family and I have discovered a new TV channel we absolutely love: ME TV. No, it’s not about being egotistical. ME stands for Memorable Entertainment, and its lineup boasts all the old shows that we used to watch when I was a kid. No fooling! It’s like my youth has been reborn! Everything from Rockford Files to Wagon Train, Perry Mason, to Dick VanDyke, Hawaii 5-0 (the REAL 5-0) to Family Affair, Columbo to The Guns of Will Sonnett…so many shows that, even at the earliest age, caught my imagination and introduced me to the power of story. Each show, in it’s own way, drew me in, making me a part of the drama, adventure, or romance. I knew, even back then, that I wanted to be a part of all that. Of weaving stories. Of letting them bring truths to life in a way that engaged the heart, imagination, and mind.

But as I’ve watched these old shows, I’ve discovered something. Something that absolutely astounded me. God is there. Up front and center.

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Nameless Waterfalls

During a recent vacation we visited a place in Alaska called the Tracy Arm Fjord. The picture was one that I took during that visit.

As we past through these amazing waters it was bitter cold (note the icebergs in the water), in the early morning around 6 a.m., and with a chilly wind to accompany us. But rather than be frozen by the weather I was mesmerized by the number of waterfalls along this 30 mile long fjord. There were hundreds of them. Most did not have a name because there were so many. In the above photo, if you click to make it larger, there are at least three, if not more.

And then it struck me. The words we write and the authors who write them are like these waterfalls.

They are plentiful and beautiful.

But many remain nameless.

And yet, without them the fjord is unfilled and the oceans run dry.

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