Tom-A-Toe, Tom-Ah-Toe

As I've been reading and researching the steps I need to take to attempt to get my book published (Step 1: find an agent. Amusingly, this is similar to the whole: can't get a job without experience issue that many college graduates encounter. Most agents want people who are already published. Ah. The circle of life.) I've been trying to psych myself up for the inevitable rejections that are to come. Because I know that publishing is not easy - I watched my friend work tirelessly for many years before her first book was published. It's not all just writing the book (which is a big hurdle, certainly, but the hurdles just seem to get bigger from there.) The thing that has kept me from even finishing the umpteen bazillion half-books I have languishing on my hard drive is fear of failure. And probably fear of success thrown in there just to make me a complete nutcase. (Because really, what if I get it published and then everyone hates it? Isn't that worse than not getting published in the first place?) So actually pushing through the the very last sentence on the very last page of this was a huge step. Going back and re-reading and polishing it an even bigger one. Letting someone else look at it? Huge.

So now I'm faced with sending it out into the world for people who don't know me from Adam (or Eve, I guess, if we want to be gender-correct, presumably people would be able to tell me apart from Adam just by seeing my name.) It's marginally terrifying. And it's pushed me into thinking about why I care what other people think about my writing.

Lots of writing sites will tell you that you need to step up and own it - shout from the rooftops "I Am A Writer!" And I've been trying, over the past years, to do that, but it never really feels right to me. I write, certainly. But am I a writer? Is that who I am? Is it all of who I am, or just part? Because I am also a wife. And a mother. And a cook. And a bottle washer. It would seem that I am a lot of things.

Then I started looking at those labels and it occurred to me...that's not who I am, it's what I do. I do wifely things. I do motherly things. I cook. I clean. I write. But who am I? I don't think that I can (or really should) define my very being by any of those labels. The label that I most want to claim, the one that I care most about as far as defining myself? I am a child of God. If I can really absorb that, and make that the one thing that defines me, then really, does it matter anymore if someone doesn't like my writing than it does if my family doesn't care for tonight's dinner? Not really. Though I'll admit it, I don't like them not to like my cooking - I put a lot of love into that food. Just like there's a lot of love in my writing. So sure, yes, I don't want people to hate it...but it's likely that someone will. Not every recipe is a success. Not every story wins a prize.

Is the argument simply semantics? Maybe it is. I just hope that with the sure to be coming rejections I can keep focus on the fact that I'm just trying to use the talents I have. I'm a child of God. I also write.

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