This summer I applied for a picture book mentorship through #pbchat. Leading up to the application, I revised and polished my manuscripts with a fever. I agonized over which mentors to apply to and which stories to submit. I felt confident that one of my stories would resonate with at least one of the mentors I selected. I day dreamed about the fall months working with someone who could help me take my writing to the next level.
I wasn’t selected.
I was as happy as I could be for the writers who were chosen, and while I learned a lot about my writer self by going through the application process, my creative ego was crushed.
My inner critic played on repeat: My stories are crap. My writing is crap. It’s no good. I’m no good.
And thus began a downward spiral into the well of negativity. I wallowed in my own pity. I wallowed in jealousy. I wallowed in a creative funk. I spent months in that well before I could see what happened for what it really was: a reality check. As much as the realization hurt, I’m not as far along in my writing journey as I thought I was. My work isn’t as far along as I thought it was. We both have a long way to go.
And you know what?
That’s okay. (Mind you, it took months for me to be able to say this.)
It’s okay as long as I keep trying. It’s okay as long as I keep learning. It’s okay as long as I don’t give up.
Sure, I couldn’t celebrate earning a mentorship this summer (although I did win a manuscript critique, for which I am incredibly thankful), but I could celebrate taking a risk. I should celebrate taking a risk. And not just the risks taken for publishing opportunities, but all the risks I take during my creative journey, including applying for a mentorship.
It was time to do some rebranding.
I keep a Google Spreadsheet called, “The BIG List of Query Submissions” where I track every query I send to editors or publishers. After my realization, it got a makeover. I rebranded it, “The BIG List of Taking Risks.” Now I keep track of every risk I take for my creative self. Mentorship applications. Contest submissions. When I put myself and my work out there, it goes on this list. And it becomes something to celebrate.
Each entry on my spreadsheet is a reminder that I’m choosing not to give up. The rejections will come. They’ll never stop. But now I’m at peace with them, because each rejection means there will always be something to celebrate.