Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Positive View of Problems

Yesterday I paused at my local metaphysical bookstore Dancing Moon to buy a couple of birthday/housewarming presents. While checking out, I pulled one of the cards from the deck on the counter, the idea being that I would be guided to select one that would apply to me and my situation.

What the card said, in short: the problems you run into are chances to develop strengths and grow.

Okay, I'm willing to view dealing with the vast complications of the book business as weight-lifting. I don't know how long that attitude will last, but it did give me a brighter perspective yesterday that has lasted at least until today.

The attitude gibes with that of the admirable Ralph Waldo Emerson. From the Emerson on Man and God which was a gift to me in high school: "Difficulties exist to be surmounted. The great heart will no more complain of the obstructions that make success hard, than of the iron walls of the gun which hinder the shot from scattering. It was walled round with iron tube with that purpose, to give it irresistible force in one direction. A strenuous soul hates cheap successes."

I don't know any artist--or anyone, for that matter--who thinks of his or her successes as too easily won. Still, the obstacle-as-strengthener idea can take away some anger. I've developed an unnatural patience and a certainty of my own purpose through the years of obstacles (huge pain-in-the-ass interferences) that publishing so often presents.

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Debra W said...

That card you drew does put a much more positive spin on things. I hope that the brighter perspective stays with you for a while.

I would imagine that you would have to retain a huge sense of patience in dealing with the obstacles which you encounter in the book business. Your "patience muscle" must be absolutely enormous by now!

Peggy Payne said...

Recently I've seen two writers get books rejected with particularly puzzling stated reasons.

One got a note saying: "This doesn't strike me with hard enough magic."

The other was a futuristic novel that was turned down as being "too contemporary."

Debra W said...

Who actually sits there and tries to figure out the most obscure reason they can find to reject somebody's work? Somebody should put a book together filled with ridiculous rejection letters.

Peggy Payne said...

There are some books like that dealing with people like Melville and other classic writers. Also, there's at least one website that prints rejections letters. I couldn't find it again easily or would have posted the address. It's fairly nasty toward the authors of the letters: a good place to burn bridges, which I don't think is a great idea most of the time.

It is encouraging though to see the amount of rejection some great books have received before emerging.