One of these days, just for scientific purposes, I suggest you sit down and tally up some of those bumps in the road you've hit.
Not if it's just going to depress you, of course. But if you're having one of those days when you've seen a book deal perilously close to yours, or you see a former querying trench buddy in the bookstore, or you're staring at your perpetually empty inbox, hitting refresh every five seconds and thinking Please, just this once, let it be easy, this might be useful to you.
It might surprise you a little bit how many of those moments you'll find once you get going. Once you catalog all the crushing close-calls, the maybe-but-not-quites, and the sure things that you still can't believe didn't work out, you'll find other things. Smaller things. Form rejections that hit you at just the wrong moment. A promising start that fizzled out. All those little work-life balance misfires that made you think maybe you couldn't do this after all.
If you're feeling particularly tough, you can put yourself back there. Think about how you reacted in that moment: whether you sobbed into your pillow, dived for the takeout menus, laughed bitterly with your friends over drinks, or just sat in front of your computer and quietly scrubbed that particular happy ending from your mind.
But the most important thing to remember isn't that those moments didn't work out. It's that you kept going, even if you had to dig in with both hands. That passion, ambition, and drive is something that deserves to be recognized. The fire that's gotten me this far isn't always a pleasant thing to live with, but I'm a little in awe of it nonetheless.
There's a bit of a trap inherent in this exercise, though. It's tempting to think that, after all that hard work, the easy part has to be right around the corner. Even though logically we know there's no such thing as a guarantee in this business, we're writers. We love a good narrative.
But the point, at least for me, is to remind myself that if I didn't give up during any of that, I'm certainly not going to give up now. It might not be all the reassurance I was looking for. But it's a pretty powerful feeling all the same.
Have a great weekend, everyone, and happy writing!