"The only time you fail is the last time you try." -Anonymous
Last weekend I attended a two-day children's book writer's conference sponsored by our local chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). If ever I needed the above quote, it is now. I always come away from these conferences exhilarated AND discouraged. Exhilarated because the speakers' enthusiasm always stirs up my own passion to write. Discouraged because I feel like a salmon swimming upstream. It's not that I don't believe in my story, but I'll be the first to admit it may lack appeal to an editor that has a bottom line to consider. I wave that aside and tell myself if they'd just look at it and give me their suggestions I can make it better. The editors and agents who spoke at the conference, however, emphasized the fact that they get thousands of submissions a year and only the cream of the crop will be given a second look. What I took away from the conference was this: only send my best work. It can't be potentially great, it has to be great already and then improved upon. See how this can be discouraging. The man-made dam those salmon were trying to jump is very much a part of the publishing world.
The greater lesson, though, that I took away from the conference is this: those man-made obstacles hampering my progress are sometimes put there by me. Those can be removed. Every time I feel discouraged I must remember, "The only time you fail is the last time you try." I came home from the conference with a whole new way to present my story to an editor or agent. One of the speakers had said "understand your limitations and work to your strengths." My strengths...yes! I know what my strengths are but had not thought to highlight them concerning a book for children. I rewrote my cover letter. Then I went through the story looking for places I could make those strengths more evident. After rereading it a couple more times with this in mind, I will send it off to the two editors and two agents at the conference. They may not be in the market for what I have to offer, but I won't give up. The only chance I have to get it published is to keep putting it out there. If I keep doing that, my endeavor cannot be deemed a failure.
God reminds me this is what love is all about--never giving up. I may not always act in a loving manner toward others, either by commission or omission, but if I keep asking for forgiveness and trying again, I'll not have failed at His command that we love love another.
Father, thank You for loving me no matter what--for never giving up on me.
Link to scripture: http://niv.scripturetext.com/mark/12-29.htm
Take action: Love One Another