Peppers flourished with wild abandon. Tomatoes ripened faster than I could make salsa. Summer squash grew to gargantuan proportions, prompting many phallic thoughts not only for me, but for everyone who stopped by and received one as a gift.
If you have phallic thoughts looking at this year’s squash crop, I feel very sad for you. This is my most impressive specimen:
Hardly in the same ballpark as the ones that took both arms to carry just 12 months ago.
The funny thing is, I changed nothing in my gardening process. I used the same fertilizer, bought seedlings from the same store, even planted within a couple days of last year’s start date.
But the weather hasn’t been kind this year. Neither have the aphids or those nasty little spiky weeds that make me want to throw a hoe through the fence. I’ve done everything I can, but my garden just isn’t flourishing this year.
I couldn’t help but think of this when I read Victoria Strauss’s excellent blog post at Writer Beware titled Getting published is not a crap shoot.
I agree with her wholeheartedly, and think every author should read it. Here’s an excerpt:
There’s no question that good books fail to find publication –for a whole range of reasons, including what a publisher is already publishing, sales or marketing concerns, poor publisher/agent targeting on the writer's part, or sometimes simply because the writer gave up too soon. But far more often, rejection is based on quality and marketability, or the lack thereof.
Like I said, I agree with her. I really do.
And yet the last line of that paragraph makes me sad. I’ve stood in the shoes of every author who ever stared at a rejection letter and wondered, “is it the writing or is it something else?”
And the problem is, you often can’t know.
During the (sometimes brutal) two-year stretch leading up to my three-book deal, I had the benefit of an amazing agent who was able to procure detailed explanations from editors rejecting us. It was staggering how often the decision came down to something that had nothing to do with the writing itself – an editor who just bought a book in the same vein, or a marketing team that feared the book might be a tough sell with older readers.
I’m not saying I didn’t learn and grow from those experiences, but I also didn’t take them too personally. I recognized that sometimes it is a crap shoot.
It's important to strike a balance between embracing failures as an opportunity to learn and improve, and recognizing that sometimes there isn’t much to learn. Sometimes you’ve mastered everything within your control – the weeds, the typos, the watering schedule, the plot holes – and your lack of success can’t be traced to anything you have the ability to fix.
But the great thing? There’s always spring. Always. You can look ahead and see sunshine and honeybees and pound your chest and shout, “oh weather gods, you may have beaten me this year, but next year I shall have squash that put porn stars to shame!”
Not that I’ve done that.
Why are the neighbors staring at me?
Psst...don't forget to stop by and visit me at The Debutante Ball today!