the never lesson
I have just returned from Los Angeles, from my third Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference, each of which costs roughly a million dollars when all is said and done. Like the rest of the 1.500 people in the conference, I go with the hope of getting a contract, of some big editor or agent being swept away by a manuscript I began when my son was six months old.
He’s now nine.
When I called from the LAX on my way home, my husband put me on speakerphone so Oliver could ask, hope high in his voice,
“Mom! Did you get a publisher?”
“Nope,” I said in a voice as chipper as I could muster, “Not yet. But I’m not going to give up!”
When I hung up the phone, I went into a bathroom stall because I didn’t feel like crying in front of a bunch of strangers in the terminal.
My husband has always been rooting for me, and now that my kids are old enough, they are rooting for me too. So now, it’s not only that I want to realize my innermost dreams. It’s that I don’t want to let my family down.
I don’t want them to see me fail.
When I pulled it together and was washing my hands, I looked in the mirror and had an epiphany: The more I fail and get back up, the more powerful the lesson. If I were to fail two, five, ten, or even twenty times, I am teaching my kids that it takes a while to write a book and then find an agent or editor that will take a chance on it.
But when the numbers rise to forty, sixty, or even a hundred, if I don’t give up, what I end up teaching is that it takes more than talent and desire. I end up teaching that what it takes to give breath and life to our innermost dreams is persistence. And determination. And faith in self.
I walked into that bathroom deflated. I walked out empowered. Because at the end of this road, what I hope to teach my children is not how to be a successful writer.
What I hope to teach them is to never give up.