Keep Moving Forward

Austin Madison, a Pixar animator, recently wrote, about the creation of art and content, “…slog diligently through this quagmire of discouragement and despair.” How crushingly depressing. Excuse me while I hide in my flannel pajamas eating a half-gallon of Ben & Jerry’s and pretending Madison didn’t just hit the slush-pile nail on the head.

But, ignoring the truth never helped anybody. Ignoring the fact that most of what I read is not publishable material would mean the end of my career. For you, authors, ignoring that what you’ve written has this problem or that weakness would mean the end of yours.

So, an optimist at heart, I can’t help but point out (with one finger raised and light-bulb over my head) that all things are necessarily defined by their opposites. If you’ve received 87 rejection letters from agents and suddenly you get The Call—an agent’s offer-of-representation—that glowing pride and joy will be 87 times better than it would have been had you received only one rejection that you chalked up to some fault of the agent. Save your rejection letters (Stephen King’s were on a railroad spike nailed into the wall). Wave hello to them even as they mock you. Perhaps one day, you can mock right back.

As for me, slogging through all of the material that is (generously) not so good enhances my excitement when something special comes along and the Flash Moment unexpectedly pops up.

Ironically, Walt Disney (a man whose company now works closely with the above-mentioned animator) had something different to say about the creation of art and content: “Keep moving forward.”

So, I don’t know about you, but I happily “keep moving forward,” because I know the more diligently I “slog,” the closer I’ll get to the next Flash Moment.

Posted on September 19, 2011, in Advice, book publishing, Inspiration, manuscripts, queries, rejection, slush pile, submissions, The Flash Moment, writers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I get it, but let’s be honest: noone is concerned about having to keep moving forward or slog. Those things imply progress. What worries and depresses people is spinning wheels: the feeling of being constantly in motion while not getting anywhere. When you dig into your pile, you know for a fact that getting through it is doable. It may be a Sisyphean task, but in theory, if you put enough effort into it, you’ll eventually have gone through everything and found a few worthy books to rep. But the aspiring author doesn’t have that security: he knows that the query process will be a lot of work, and that success ultimately is not in his hands. His success is dependent on other people listening to him, whether those people are agents, editors, or readers. If they don’t listen, or you can’t make them listen, then all the effort and determination in the world amounts to a whole lot of wasted energy. And when it seems like the entire world is deliberately closing its ears to you, that’s when you get the feeling you picked the wrong career.

    So let me ask you: what would you feel if you knew that you could be working on that pile for the rest of your life, never finding either an end to it or a sellable book? Try and figure what that would feel like, and then you’ll know how the people querying you feel.


  2. Do it cause you love it. Do it because you can’t, not do it. If someone else catches on to what you’ve created and loves it too….well then, that’s just more love.

  3. Thanks for the encouragement. I know I’m constantly trying to make the things I do better. So rejections are hard, but also necessary to keep us improving.

    This is the motivation I needed today. Because willingness to improve, I think, is a part of the perseverance that keeps us going, trying, and slogging on.

    Stand up, dust off, improve your weakness, and get back out there!

  4. Great point Lauren. Very motivational. We are all the captains of our lives, but only through diligence can we become the champions of our challenges. Great stuff.

  5. Thanks, Lauren–I needed this today 🙂 And great point–the more discouragement we overcome, the sweeter the triumphs! Plus–I don’t know about you–I can’t really help but keep moving forward–I can’t not write 🙂 I might as well move not only forward but onward and upward, because I’m going to keep moving regardless. Have a great week!

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