Last October, I flew to Michigan to gather with coaches and fellow writers. For many of us, everything we have been doing this year was leading up to this trip. The trip during which we would get to meet one-on-one with editors. *gulp*
I was a bundle of nerves leading up to and walking into that meeting. I kept telling myself that it was just a conversation, I needed to trust the work I’d done to prepare, and the result of the meeting would simply be another step on the path. But I was still nervous as I walked into the small conference room and sat down across from Mr. Editor.
Things started conversationally. I mentioned that I’d last been in Grand Rapids 2.5 years prior for the Festival of Faith and Writing. Having just quit my restaurant job, it was the moment I decided to go all-in on writing. He asked if I could tell him about that decision. Instead of directly answering his question as it was stated, derp brain decided I needed to start by talking about my music career. Because nothing evokes professional confidence like a story about a thing you did not follow through on.
From there, I walked through my pitch. He asked a few follow-up questions, which I did answer directly. I somehow kept using the word “practical” to describe other books on my topic, implying that mine was not. But otherwise, I represented all of you and zee book well. Even so, nothing earth-shattering happened. He didn’t say, “This is a garbage idea.” He didn’t say, “Here is some money; go write this book.”
Upon the advice of one of my coaches, I spent some time after the meeting writing down the facts of what happened–not how I felt about those facts. Later, my feelings caught up with me, and I realized that, though the conversation went well by many metrics, I was a bit disappointed.
Deep down, being the creative performer that I am, I wanted him to tell me that I did a good job and that I was a good writer. That vampiric need for validation, which I have been assured is normal, continues to catch me by surprise. And when I didn’t get it, I felt let down. Hear me when I say it was an overall positive experience. But deep down, I believed that I’d win this editor over if I communicated well enough. Anything short of that felt like a failure.
Monday afternoon quarterbacking with Dr. Therapist, I talked through the experience and my feelings, and he gave me this tidbit that I hope will encourage you. “These things are not won in moments. They are processes.” I have a tendency to hyperfocus on all that went “wrong” and how whatever disappointment was my fault because it gives me a sense of control. But lots of positive things happened as well. I met other editors. I cultivated relationships with my fellow cohort members and my coaches. I got positive and constructive feedback. And I am no less certain of my calling to write for single, Christain creatives.
So, moving forward with this particular editor wasn’t my next step. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have a next step. In fact, last week gave me a plethora of potential next steps. It just means that it’s not that. I can be disappointed. But I can also choose to show up Monday morning and do my job anyway. Which is what I did.
Think about a recent experience that left you disappointed. Maybe it was a bad date, a career setback, or a friend who reacted poorly to a vulnerable confession. What expectations did you take with you into that experience? What’s one thing that went well and one thing you wish had gone better?