Find me one published author who never received a single “not the right fit” letter, and I’ll show you a fish with feathery wings. Whether at the educational stage, the agent stage, or the publishing stage, most have been told their work is not worthy.
I was lucky when it came to agents and publishers, but my rejection came earlier in life, when a high school teacher read my papers aloud ridiculing me in front of my peers. She teased me relentlessly (today it would be called bullying), and on the last day of my senior year in high school, she said to me, “I hope you don’t waste your scholarship to study writing. You may be able to write a greeting card, but that’s about as far as you’ll ever go.”
I made a mistake that day. I believed her. I put down my pen for nearly a decade and let way too many stories go untold.
That’s why, twenty years later, as Publishers Weekly gives me a starred review for my debut novel, I feel such tremendous excitement. Whether Into the Free sells two copies or two-hundred thousand doesn’t matter one bit to me. I now know one important thing: she was wrong.
Here’s what she didn’t teach us: God gives us each special talents, gifts, and dreams. Who are we, if we are not of God? What are our abilities, if not God-given?
I am a teacher, and I spend every bit of my energy trying to teach my children one lesson: You can do it!
I am tired of teachers telling us who we are and what we will or will not achieve. I am weary of labels and bell curves and standardized tests. I weep for this generation of children who are told you need x, y, z medications to fit into our box. And I mourn the countless souls who believed the people who said, “You’ll never…” or “You can’t…” or “You aren’t good enough…”
I say to you, today. You can. You are good enough. You were born for a purpose, and only YOU know what that is. Don’t let anyone discourage you from living YOUR life to its fullest potential. And if you fail, you’re only one step closer to succeeding.
Watch this little video clip I found on YouTube, and you’ll see…all great minds have a few things in common: failure, rejection, and a willingness to risk it all anyway.
Has anyone ever told you “you can’t”? What one piece of criticism has made you a better, stronger writer?