Called to write

The May/June 2010 Writer’s Digest magazine published an interview with Anne Lamott (of Bird by Bird fame) in which she is quoted “I really believe people are called to a literary life like others are called to a theological life or a religious life, but publishing is a business that is really hard. Hard on your heart. Hard on your soul. Hard on your everything.”

Amen to that.

Yesterday I got my advance copy of LaChance Publishing’s Women Reinvented in the mail.  I also saw my name in the June Redbook magazine that just hit the racks at the grocery stores. Pretty cool.

But I also checked a contest website online and saw that my essay didn’t even make the final rounds.

And I got another rejection in the mail.

As I was searching for a publisher or agent for my cancer memoir I faced something I had never had to face in all my years of writing; Repeated rejection. Publisher after publisher, agent after agent; they all said no to taking on my cancer memoir book. I was heartened by the positive rejections, the personal notes, the encouragement, but the bottom line seemed to be that this was a book that might never see the light of day. And that hurt. It still does. I worked on that book for over two years, pouring my heart and soul into it. I felt led to write it, and for what?  So that it could be deemed not marketable?  The bottom line: cancer memoirs don’t make big money. Taking sections from the book for anthologies and magazines has proved to be a balm for the pain that realization has left in my heart.

Now I have a new book, a project that I began a year ago and temporarily abandoned to concentrate on getting the memoir published. This one shows much more promise in regards to publishing opportunities. But I know there are still roadblocks to that end, still months of writing, researching and finding the right market, the right fit. Weeks or months of rejection.

Knowing that can be daunting some days.

Last Thursday was one of those days. I was sure I should just throw in the towel and stop writing. Get a job. Buy a sketch pad and start drawing. Read some books. Clean the house and have another garage sale. Dig a ditch. Clean the flower bed. Anything but write.

But I can’t, not really.

Like Lamott, I believe I have been called to this writing gig.  I can trace that call all the way back to the little girl who sat on her bed scribbling in an Indian Chief tablet, then to the high school girl who aspired to be the editor of the school newspaper (and made it her senior year), and finally to the mom at home who, in January of 1989 was thrilled to get that first writing check, the check that finally allowed her to call herself what she knew she’d been all along~ a writer.

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