The only way out is through.

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about being a writer, and how it so often boils down to perseverance in the face of all you can’t control.

How, when you start out, you’re just trying to get a hundred words written. Then a thousand. Then thousands, and if you’re really committed, you finish a draft. And then what? You read it, analyze it, figure out how to tear it apart, figure out which pieces you want to piece back together again.

You revise. You send to critique partners, and they poke innumerable holes in your work. You patch the holes, hope it stays intact. You repeat this over and over, until it either falls completely apart or turns into something watertight (sometimes both, if you’re really determined not to quit). Eventually, you finish. You celebrate.

And then you forget.

It’s suddenly not enough to have finished, not enough to love this thing you worked so hard to create. You want other people to love it. You want an agent. You want an editor. You want readers to pick it up off of bookstore shelves, you want them to wish for six Goodreads stars instead of five, you want and want and want. It’s an endless string of want, if you let it get out of control, and it can tangle and strangle if you give too much weight to the validation that comes from other people saying YES.

It’s not bad to crave those things. It’s just not always helpful. 

Because all of that—every bit of it that isn’t write the book you love, write the book you’re PROUD of—is something that’s out of your control.

I made a goal, a long time ago, and it’s this: be grateful for every single step along the way. Be grateful for the people who read, even if they only say thank you, but no in return. Learning how to write through thank you, but no is a tough, but INCREDIBLY valuable, skill to acquire. Be proud of finishing, proud of finishing something you love, proud of all the time and energy and effort and patience and early mornings and late nights. Proud of tunneling through mountains with plastic spoons, essentially. Proud of conquering the only way out is through.

Do your very best with all that’s within your control.

Love the process. Love the people you meet along the way.

Be patient. Be grateful. Persevere.


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