Many of you may have heard via Facebook that I got engaged over the Thanksgiving holiday! Yup, that’s my fiancé in the photo below, down on one knee!
This was a big moment in my life, and it got me thinking about patience, persistence, and how long it can take to get what you want. You see, my boyfriend and I have been together for ten years. It’s been a long trek to get to that beautiful vista with him down on one knee.
And writing can be the same way.
We live in a fast-paced culture that expects everything to happen quickly. We want to get an agent, and write 8 books in a year, and be published, and have it all happen right now! I just finished NaNoWriMo, which was all about quantity quantity quantity – as fast as you can – not quality. We have friends who ask when we’re getting published. They say, “Gosh haven’t you been writing that book for two years?” And you can see the look in their eye, wondering why it’s taking so long.
My relationship with my boyfriend has been the same way. I was told that a man who doesn’t propose after five years will never propose. My family even started a bet to see how long it would take me to get fed up and leave him. Everyone has their idea of what love should be, and if you can’t quantify it with a ring on your finger (or a publishing contract), well, you’re probably wasting your time.
But here’s the thing…
I love my boyfriend. I love writing. These are things worth waiting for.
I got an agent this year too, and that was another endeavor that was 10 years in the making. I had to write my first novel, then my second, and then my third. I had to go to school and learn my craft. I had to take the time and put in the work, and I still don’t have a publishing contract. But what I do have is my journey. I have all that I’ve learned, and my love for writing, and that is what keeps me opening my laptop every day.
I won’t deny that all that “talk” gets in your head. It makes you wonder about your worth. Why isn’t my writing good enough that someone wants to publish it? Why doesn’t my boyfriend love me enough to want to marry me? You start to wonder if you’re a big failure and if all this energy was for nothing.
But that’s our culture talking. That’s our fast-paced-I-need-everything-yesterday illusion of success. It has very little to do with you, or your writing.
You see, I’d rather be in my relationship and not married, than leave it. I’d rather be writing every day because I love it, even without a publishing contract, than stop writing. I want these things in my life because they’re important to me, and not because someone puts a value on them in the form of a ring or a book deal.
Yes, we all want validation. But sometimes that takes time. It takes hard work and patience. Sometimes it takes years. But those years are also full. They’re full of your passion, and your bravery, and your commitment. Those years are your life – and they’re worth more than the validation of getting an agent, a contract, money, awards, or fans.
We all started writing because we loved it, and caring for that love – day by day, week after week, year after year – is what’s important.
That love is what lasts a lifetime.