Olympic gold-medalist Mary Lou Retton said, “Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit.”
I’ve watched friends and family struggle to find their Something.
One writer friend illustrated many successful books before she decided to write them. A few of the books she wrote were published and successful, but as the business became more and more cutthroat, she looked for something new. She turned to music, then crocheting, then jewelry making. She stayed in creative fields, while she searched for the one which would fuel her fire.
Another friend, whose first novel was very good, but not published, began a second novel. She began more than one second novel, but never finished them. Her flame struggled. She eventually turned her creativity to quilting, and that fire is burning strong.
I found my Something at a very young age. I’ve been a writer since I was five. It’s what I love doing.
But, as my friends and I learned, sometimes that flame stands little chance in the face of forces that “throw water” on our work.
Some writing instructors and editors have praised my work, which stoked my fire. Others dismissed me or ignored me, and the flames sputtered.
The hardest rejections came when editors praised and encouraged and asked for revisions, building that fire strong. Then when my confidence was at his highest point, they got out the fire extinguisher and doused my ego. I was forced to wonder why I keep at it.
But deep within, I felt the warmth again. A spark inside me said, “Write, write.” I signed up for a workshop or just launched myself into a new writing project. The rejected piece would still be there when the pain was less intense.
I have wonderful writer friends who helped to keep me encouraged, but I’ve learned that the spark begins with ME. I’m happy when I’m writing, and I can’t let the nay-sayers extinguish my flame.
If your Something is writing, write! Feed the fire and keep it lit.
I wrote the first version of this blog post more than two years ago, before I was offered a contract for LIKE A RIVER, my first published novel. That novel launched in April, 2015, and earned a starred Kirkus review. My second novel, EMPTY PLACES, is due out next year. I am proof that not giving up can work.
I am still writing, still loving it, and the flame burns strong!