Years ago, my dearest friend gave me a novelty birthday card that had a bookmark on the front of it, and it’s something that I’ve kept near my writing desk ever since. Even as I sit here now in a new house, after a stressful near month of moving, I can’t stop staring at that bookmark and the phrase written on it.
“Life is a story you write as you go.”
As another February 9th rolls around, I find myself reflecting deeply on those words, and what they mean for my own life and story.
February 9th of course is the anniversary of when I wrote the very first pages of the book that would become STILL THE STARS, a novel I am now 7.5 drafts and 18 years deep into. On this very blog, I have chronicled so much about this book—everything from deciding to go back to working on it while in an Edinburgh cafe in 2015, to two failed crowdfund campaigns to publish it, to as of today, over 80 rejections from agents. And that’s not counting the rejections of the numerous mentorship programs I’ve applied to or the plethora of pitch fests I’ve entered that were met with radio silence.
When looked at through this lens, it is a wonder I’m even still trying. So much of the past seven years of actively writing this book (and then rewriting and rewriting again) has been rejection, failure, and dashed hopes.
So why, I ask myself, am I still bothering? Why keep pushing to put something out there that it feels like the world doesn’t ever want to see the light of day? What’s the point in continuing to pursue this endeavor? Why don’t I just give up?
Because more than anything, this project has brought me hope. Every time I finish a new draft and get the book just a bit closer to its finish line, the more I grow as an author. The more I get to play with and explore this world that’s been in my head all these years. Every mistake I’ve made on this quest has made me a better writer, and a person with more fortitude. I wake up every day knowing that I could just put this project on a shelf, let it collect dust, and never touch it again. But I can’t. Rather, I won’t.
Writing, I’ve learned, is resilience. It is picking up the pen again every time the world tells you to put it down. It is the thing that brings me more joy than anything else in my life, and I’ll take the heartache of rejection and the pain of falling down, because every time I’ve stood back up, I become stronger than I was before.
I don’t know what the next year for Alteria will hold. I’ve been querying again after the let down of the Kickstarter in the fall, so who knows if any of those will pan out. I also haven’t entirely ruled out self publication, so there is always that chance that I may try again.
I just know that this story is one I’m writing as I go, and as long as I’m still going, I’m never giving up.
This post was also shared to my newsletter, Queery Letters.