Monday, 28 May 2012

Turn your disappointments into art

If you've ever tried to get a book published, you'll know that it's a path strewn with rejection and snotty  letters from literary agents ('We read your manuscript and simply didn't find it interesting enough. However, we wish you the best of luck in finding a place for it.') When this goes on for ten years, you can start to feel like you're either going crazy, have zero writing talent, or are wasting your time. Which is exactly how most best-selling authors felt too, until the 456th publisher they approached decided to take them on. Ask Marina Lewycka, author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian, and Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help. It it can pay to persist, even when nothing's going your way.

As a writer awaiting a lucky break, I find US financial guru Jim Rohn's advice helpful. Discipline your disappointment, he tells his aspirant billionaires. When things don't work out, don't persist in asking 'why'. Stay focused on what you're doing. Don't get distracted.

Sure, Jim. I took your advice - only I took it one step further. I decided to turn my years of trying to get published into something fabulous. From the depths of my literary disappointment arose The Peacock Book Project: creative, hilarious, meaningful, fun.

This, in fact, has become my standard response to trying times. I ask, 'What would make me happy right now? What would feel better?' and then I try to do it. We're each responsible for our own happiness, after all. When there's a war, paint a glorious picture. When politicians are letting the country down, create something innovative for people to share. When your venture has failed, turn it into something fun. When you're having a bad day, take a walk and turn your mood around. When agents and publishers don't want you, fall in love with yourself. Keep writing. Keep the faith.  

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