I often say to people that, for me, the journey to publication is just like the journey to love.
It is at times exhilarating; at times devastating; at times the cause of a pounding heart and sleepless nights; at times the cause of neglecting my practical ‘real world’ duties; and at times the activity that prompts the most soul-searching, journal writing, navel gazing and even the odd drunken night.
The pain of each rejection of a manuscript is as familiar to me as every romantic rejection, unreturned phone call, dead-end relationship and broken heart, because my work is me. There is no difference. Every time I receive a letter that says, “we really liked this manuscript, we liked this and that but we don’t feel it’s quite right for us” it feels very personal. And yet I also know that it’s not so much personal as it is a mismatching of fate.
In my personal romantic life, I found The One. And I look back on all the years of searching, heartbreak, Bridget Jones-type hilarity and doubts that I would ever find The One and I realise that all of those broken relationships were opportunities to learn and grow. And if I could go back in time and tell myself not to worry and that it would all be okay, it would certainly have eased the pain. But would it also have taken away the growth and important lessons? Would I have simply stopped trying and sat around waiting for it to fall into my lap and therefore not have been the person I was when I did finally meet The One?
We cannot see the future and so we feel stuck in this limbo world of unrequited love.
Until it happens, for real.
I tell myself to take heart, a phrase that seems to mean “to gain courage”. The courage to keep going. The courage to keep believing. The courage that I will find The One. And The One will love me just as much.