The publishing industry can be a challenge for someone with artistic sensibilities. The psyche can be worn down by disappointment, bad reviews, poor sales, and rejection by agents and editors.
To be resilient in the face of such disillusion is a quality to be desired.
I found this quote from Søren Kierkegaard (Danish philosopher and theologian 1813-1855) in his book Either/Or:
“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never.”
What Kierkegaard wrote resonates with me at the deepest levels. Every day when working on a new project or reviewing a new proposal or helping an author through a new challenge I strive to use “the eye which…sees the possible.”
Is this project commercially viable? Does this author have the indescribable magic? Is this a message that can change lives? Each question is immersed in the “possible.” That moment of decision weighs the possible against the unlikely. And once the decision is made hoping that it was the right one at that moment.
When the “possible” becomes a reality and ineffable literature takes shape…anything can happen. It is a beautiful thing.
The care you take today to craft just the right sentence, to spin the right story, to research, and plot, and plan, and compose, and dream. It is in that beautiful mess that the elixir of possibility is formed.
“My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel―it is, before all, to make you see.”
― Joseph Conrad from Lord Jim
Steve, this post hit home with me. It is the eye of the possible that keeps me pressing forward. The dream that can come true with persistence and a determination to learn.
Thanks for this encouraging post! I really appreciate the reminder to stay positive imagining the possibilities instead of getting bogged down by negative factors like the amount of work it takes to get a manuscript polished or the low probability of getting published. With the right attitude, the publishing industry is full of possibility, and that’s what makes it fun and exciting!
Rebecca Barlow Jordan
Beautifully said, Steve.
Excellent. I love the Kierkegaard quote. There is much truth in his words and I appreciate his keen perspective. Thanks for the encouragement. It’s a nice way to start the week.
Helping others “see” is my particular passion and the heart (and task) of every true artist. Great post.
There is an old business/investment saying:
“Every deal looks good on paper”.
This saying reflects the “power in possibility”. Thankfully, the gift of discernment assists us in maintaining sobering reality. Many of us know people that are continually saying “I am going to do _______ (this or that) ” and then never actually “do” anything. Like quitting smoking, drinking, tithing or actually GET a job. Thirty years later they are still “working on it” and still announcing on what they are “going” to do as if that in itself was some sort of achievement. (Out west its been called “All hat, no cattle”)
Resilience, resolve, determination are all wonderful things but must be accompanied by ACTION. I personally feel the power of possibility never shines brighter then when direct action (including prayer) is employed to achieve the specific goal. In the case of traditional publishing one needs to, believe it or not, ACTUALLY write. Going to conventions, seminars and the like builds networking possibilities (can be a lot of motivating fun also). Building social media presence helps among a number of other concrete actions that can be taken.
Not long ago on this blog one of the agents was a little perplexed as to why some convention attendees didn’t follow up when invited. Could it be because they haven’t ACTUALLY WRITTEN anything.
and have nothing to send? These “writers” were living in the power of possibility and had an idea and intentions that were never accompanied by action. Many of us know people that for the last umpteen years were “working on a book”.
So……………….., Steve, I totally agree with your premise on the power of possibility and would like to add the next step. It is fun and useful to imagine, dream and think”what if”. I would add that at some point if its not followed up with positive action a person may find themselves being the one saying “Hey, I thought of that first” while someone else moved the “idea” into a “reality”.
FIRST CONCEIVE (possibility), THEN ACHEIVE (action).
This is so true. I just received a five star review on one of my novels. But I also received a one star review on the same book. I was elated with the five stars, but the one star (could have been no stars at all) came from a person who didn’t like the book from the very first page. Yet she painstakingly wrote a review pointing out flaws I will correct. The one star will turn out to be more valuable than the five because the former saw the possibilities in the manuscript. Otherwise, why would she bother to go to all the trouble of reading a book she didn’t like?
I agree! On a contest entry I received a 38 out of 100. Ouch! But, it gave me very helpful suggestions.
Sheri Dean Parmelee
Kierkegaard was my go-to fellow when writing my dissertation on indirect communication and House, M.D. He was a great guy- thanks for sharing his insight (and yours) on not becoming discouraged. While studying for 18 hours of qualifying exams, my friends and I used the verse “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.”
The Kierkegaard quote speaks to me. During those times of discouragement, sometimes I need to choose to see the possibilities and not get stuck in the disappointments. Thanks for sharing this today!
Linda Riggs Mayfield
BINGO, and thank you! How very wise Kierkegaard was, and how beautifully he expressed that wisdom! I’ve felt a bit lost today, and couldn’t figure out why, until I read that. For more than a decade, I’ve read, marveled, studied, observed, cogitated upon, and written about the 1830s. One 30-chapter novel has been completed for more than a year, but as I wrote (and rewrote, and rewrote) it, I saved each chapter as a separate file–or in sets of the firsts three or first five chapters for various purposes. Over the weekend, for the first time, in order to send it to an acquisitions editor who had requested it, I put all those chapters into one huge file–the complete book, and I learned that it has 99,688 words in 314 pages, and it’s done. Wow. Now that I know that, the POSSIBILITY of finishing it has ended. It ended as it should have, of course, but a possibility that has been a driving force for years is gone today, and the pleasure of writing it, in one sense, is, too; and I think the letdown is a bit like grieving. But now I need to focus on the new possibility that she’ll think it’s wonderful and want to publish it! I think Kierkegaard would approve. 😀