What was the most recent thing you’ve wanted to achieve really, really badly in your writing career? I mean something that you would persevere with even if it meant sacrificing a good portion of your time.
For me, it was publishing a book. Actually, two books. Both of which have been in the works for at least two years now.
Other than those, I have at least a hundred documents of writing material I speculated would make for some pretty decent stories at their conception.
There are thousands of these stories in my head, and the task of narrowing down the selection to just one or two or even six is a daunting one. Some stories resonate more than others at certain times, and others may be interesting to pursue for only a few months or weeks.
How do you know when a project is good—that a project is worth pursuing?
That your project is worth putting in the extra hour a day just to ensure it advances at all?
I’ve been rejected a lot in my life. Chances are, you can also relate.
There’s something about rejection that makes us afraid of taking chances and, strangely enough, being ourselves.
How is it that two words from someone else, even someone we have no connection to, impacts us to the point of self-judgment?
Perhaps it was a rejection letter from a company where you were really hoping to work. Or maybe that book manuscript you’ve been working on for the past four years got rejected by a third publishing company.
Whatever it is, the truth is this: Rejection hurts.
Ernest Hemingway’s writing hasn’t always intrigued me.
In fact, when I was a high school student and had to read A Farewell to Arms for my AP Literature and Composition class, I happily employed the use of Sparknotes summaries at least twice for sections of the book I hadn’t read.
I mean, I tried to read the whole novel … OK, maybe I could have tried harder.
Taking a lot of literature and reading classes throughout my education, Hemingway had been substantially built up. To me, Hemingway felt like a micro-deity English teachers and students told me about: He was in the sky or somewhere very distant from me, wearing a white robe with a cigar in his mouth, watching life happen below him—but I couldn’t touch him.
I couldn’t even speak to him. I just pictured him in my mind and wondered what it would be like to be in his presence.
I know it sounds a little magnified, and I wish I could say it’s an exaggeration.
Then I finally had the chance to read one of his works. And I was crestfallen.
Can I ask you something?
When was the last time you had a fight with yourself?
Maybe it was yesterday morning, when you were sitting at your desk with your laptop open and it took you 45 minutes just to draft an email. Maybe it was two days ago, when you met a new person and walked away shaking your head, thinking, How could I have said that?