When Will It End?

I can’t count the number of times I have heard writers working to get their careers started express something the effect of: Just let me get an agent. Which will soon turn into: Just let me get published. Which may also turn into: Just let met get onto the bestseller list. You see how it goes. The idea that once something happens we will be fine is as alluring as it untrue. It is understandable, however. Clearly, it would be better if you had an agent than if you didn’t, just as it would be better if your work had been published than if it hadn’t. Unfortunately, writers who have agents, and who have been published, and have even had bestsellers, continue to face challenges, and these writers complain as loud and as long about these challenges as the writers who are still looking for their first agent.

The writer still looking for her first agent often does not want to hear about this. “Are you telling me,” she asks, “that life isn’t going to get any better when I sell my first book?” Happily, yes, that is precisely what I am saying. Life never gets any better; it remains exactly, enduringly the same. What we make of it, however, changes daily, sometimes hourly.

The “successful” writer experiences challenges and suffers with those challenges for exactly the same reason the writer still looking for an agent is challenged and suffers: because they both wish to move forward. In fact, life, that thing which won’t get any better, compels all of us ineluctably, unceasingly forward. For one writer, forward means an agent; for another writer, forward means a bigger advance, or bending genres, or writing a memoir instead of fiction. Regardless, the way ahead is as unknown to one as to the other.

So wherever you are on this journey, rejoice. It never gets any better, and it never gets any worse. If I have seen any significant difference between the established authors I have interviewed and befriended, and the beginning writers I have counseled and befriended, it is that the established writer has perhaps more fully accepted the nature of the challenge. They don’t always know any better how to answer these challenges, but they are no longer waiting for the challenges to end.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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