Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Don't Give Up

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know I have an uncanny connection with those little slips of paper found in the cellophane-wrapped treats given out by Asian restaurants. More often than not, fortune cookies seem to have relevance to my life. And, in this case, my writer's life.

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
She's been saving this one for more than a year and a half, because she received it shortly before Undercover Alien was accepted for publication. Some of you may not be familiar with my writer, but she finished her first full-length book and started down the bumpy road toward publication in 1989 - twenty years ago. Between 1989 and 2007 she wrote several others, including the story of my life.
She entered scores of contests, from which she received many compliments and several wins, and submitted her work to even more agents and editors, from which she received the advice to not quit her day job, if they responded at all. More often than not, she simply received back the postcard or self-addressed-stamped envelope she'd provided to them with a form letter of declination, making her wonder if anyone was bothering to read it.

In between, she lived life like everyone else - moved four times, married, lost friends and family to age and illness, added or deepened relationships and allowed others to move on, and began to wonder if it would serve her better to let the writing go and simply live life without the constant reminder of an unfulfilled desire. In August of 2007, she decided her dream of being a writer was just a part of childhood she was long overdue in surrendering. But a friend convinced her to enter one last contest that fall, and she did, more to please her friend than from any conviction she'd ever see her book in print. She won the contest and a contract, and Undercover Alien came out in April of 2008.

My writer wants me to point out it was more her friend's belief in her than her own belief in herself that let her to finally become a published writer. But I say the cookie's fortune still applies - it doesn't matter what keeps you moving toward your dream, it just matters that you do.

How can we ever be sure what might come next? The next book could be the one which aces the contest, grabs an editor's attention, becomes the darling of the best-seller list. Today might be the day you feel your body start to heal, land your dream job, find your soul mate. Today could even be the day the satellite dish picks up the signal that lets humans know they really aren't alone and I can finally come out of the extraterrestrial closet.

After all, I ate half the
. It's only fair.

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