“Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope.” Epictetus
The other day I felt pretty low. My publisher had just let me know that she hadn’t heard back from a broadcaster regarding an interview I’d hoped to do prior to a major event I was doing in Vancouver. In addition, a festival I had hoped to be invited to couldn’t find a spot for me. Where have I heard those words before? I’ve usually said them when I couldn’t place someone at my own festival.
Intellectually I know there are only so many spots to go around, and yet, the rejection still hurts. Rather than being rationale (not my strong suit anyway), I blamed myself, or rather my lacking, for these rebuffs. I’m just not a big enough name, a big enough draw, the book sucks, I suck.
And I spiralled downward from there.
On the heels of all that, I had to also attend a book club meeting I’d been invited to months before. As depleted as I was emotionally, I had made a commitment and rallied myself to fulfill it. Besides, who else was reading my novel?
The book club met in a hotel, in a lovely library type room. They had ordered food and drinks. The members were all thirty something’s with young families and this was their night out. And they chose to read my book. How lucky was I?
All held copies of my book. They were engaged and asked great questions. They all agreed that they got a picture (both good and bad) of the characters I had created, where they came from and what shaped their decisions. They felt the novel was a well-written page-turner that helped them understand the plight of asylum seekers as well as the Greeks who have helped them despite that country’s economic woes. Isn’t that great! Could a writer ask for anything more?
I told them I’m generally a soft touch. In real life I see beyond the obvious bad behaviour someone is displaying and try to understand why they are doing it. They seemed to like that and then we talked about the man (this article has been all over the place) who was against refugees coming to Canada, but was riding a bus in Calgary with a refugee family, including a mother and her children. When the bus backfired with a loud bang, the children screamed and the mother pushed them to the floor and covered them with her body. It was then that this man changed his mind about refugees, understood what they’d been through and why they’d left their country. It was at that moment he knew why Canada needed to help.
I didn’t have a similar dramatic experience. Not even close. But after my depressing day, the evening I spent with the book club restored my faith in my novel.
They asked me what my vision was for my novel. I said that as a relative unknown author with a small publishing house, my hopes were pragmatic. I wanted people to read my novel and understand the plight of others. And hopefully like the book.
They all felt it was an important, well-told story. They were going to tell their friends about it and spread the word. Isn’t that sweet?
Onward, I told myself as I drove home, buoyed by endless hope. Again.
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