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My book is done. Okay, so I don’t have a title—I have at least ten that are in the running—but none of them seem quite right.

In spite of that, I’m crafting a query letter to send off to agents, small presses and to anyone or anyplace else that might publish my book. Besides sweating over every word that goes into the letter, I am bracing myself for the inevitable rejection responses.

I needed to write this book about my nursing experiences back in the 80s when I was in charge of a clinic for the elderly on the 10th floor of a low-income housing project, never thinking at the time what would I do with the book once it was done.

Well, now seven years later I’m done, and educating myself on the myriad paths to publication.

Serendipitously, I tumbled on this post by Allison K Williams in Brevity this past Wednesday, September 10th. I have printed it out and taped it above my desk.

I just love the way it’s written and how it seeps under my skin and toughens it.

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What nobody tells you is that you have to be the kind of person who can hear a hundred no’s before you get to yes, and that if you are not that kind of person, selling your art may not be for you.

Here, let’s practice:No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. I’ll call you back. No. No. No. No. No. We went with someone else. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. My cousin will do it for free. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. This did not fit our needs at this time; we sincerely wish you the best of luck placing it elsewhere. No. No. No. No. No. NO. No. No. No. NO. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No response means no. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. NO. Next! No. No. No. No. No. My boss said no. My editor said no. No. No. No. No. No. NO. Sorry. No. No.

No.

Speaking editorially, we should get to ‘yes’ here, but it’s better to experience the dissatisfaction of having our expectations unfulfilled, so we can quit before dissatisfaction crushes us. Or, so we can immunize ourselves.

So we can say, I am blue. My work is blue. The blue of a thousand cerulean seas. The blue of Texas bluebells. The stunning blue of the sky from the top of the mountain. The deep blue of sapphires. The gentle blue of my mother’s eyes. The best blue.

They might want red.

And what nobody tells you is that it’s not up to you to be red, and that whether or not you want to make your blue more of a purple, or draw a crimson border around it, or pass out violet-tinted glasses to all your readers, it is a choice. Your choice. Your choice to change or stay the course, and neither of those are wrong.

It is not a cruel world full of no.

It is a beautiful world in which the one (or many) persons to whom your work–your particular, personal work–speaks are waiting for you. Waiting for you to grow, to revise, to polish, to publicize, to sell, to share. Waiting for you to make art they love and will pay for.

Go and find them.

 

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