I cannot watch shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. I’m sure these shows make for good drama, but the sight of people in open competition for (theoretically, anyway) love stirs in me all the worst and stingiest visions of the world. Love is the very opposite of competition. You cannot compete to love or be loved. If you love someone you may or may not marry them, but you will love them all the same, because love is an expression of all that interests you most, an interest generated entirely by you and through you. Love cannot be won or lost any more than a river must be given permission to flow.
But I understand that some people or things are perceived as so universally desirable that, given their singularity, an imaginary competition arises just the same. Take writers conferences. I will be attending the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference soon where 500 or so hopeful writers will descend upon about 25 agents. Every one of those 500 writers knows they need an agent to sell their manuscript, and every one of those writers knows that only a fraction of their number will walk away from this conference with representation. Given those statistics, and given the reality of the publishing business, is this not a competition?
Yes, if these were the only 25 agents in the world. If you are looking for an agent, and you go to a conference like the PNWC, remember that you are not looking for any agent but for the right agent. All those young women on The Bachelor should not be asking, “Oh, will he pick me?” They should be asking, “Is he right for me?” The same is true of you. You need the very best agent for what you write. Nothing less will do.
Of course, the thrill of shows like The Bachelor is that the girl who is finally chosen becomes The One. She is special. How does she know? Well, the bachelor chose her over all these other pretty and poised young women. Now it’s proven and she’ll never have to wonder again. Until she does wonder, or winds up on the cover of People.
Do not wait for the publishing world to tell you you are special. Do not wait to be The One. You already are. There is none other like you and never has been and never will be—it is impossible to be otherwise. And your job is not to convince anyone you are special, or prove to anyone, or demonstrate to anyone. Your job is to simply know, be it, and let those who love that specialness as naturally as they love everything find you.