Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Low-Fat Love 101: Always Bet on Yourself

I have loved writing since I was a child so I feel very fortunate to make my living as an author. This doesn’t mean that there haven’t been, and won’t continue to be, many rejections along the way. I have learned some things from those experiences that may be of value to others pursuing a creative path and may also be applicable to other life situations. Learning to believe in and advocate for your work (and yourself) is often challenging, but the rewards are well worth it.

thoughtful-pen-writing-24581037-2560-1702I should explain my work a bit first. While I am trained as a sociologist, I am an arts-based researcher. Arts-based research involves using the tenets of the creative arts in social research. This is an emerging, border crossing and innovative field which naturally means there is also resistance, critique and pushback. In short, it can be challenging to do this work.

One time this challenge can be felt is when trying to publish, in my case in both nonfiction (instructional) and fictional formats. It may be comforting to know that books I have written that have gone on to become bestsellers for their publishers were initially rejected (usually multiple times). There were long roads to publication with many stumbling blocks along the way. Even when the work was eventually well received there has more than once been a reluctance to publish the next thing. Instead, I have been urged many times to “re-do” what I’ve already done. Like in any other creative but for-profit industry (art, music, publishing) there is some measure of pressure to repeat what has already been successful in the hopes the work will continue to have an audience (aka: profitability). Of course creative people don’t want to do the same thing over again; they want to do something else. Navigating this terrain has taught me an important lesson that has repeatedly come into play in my life, professionally and personally: always bet on yourself. Stay true to who you are and if you’re a creative person, stay true to your vision and advocate for your work. Rejection, criticism nor praise and commercial success define your relationship with yourself or your work. While you have to deal with the external, it’s the internal that matters. We shouldn’t accept the low-fat version of our work, and our relationship to our work, any more than we should with the people in our lives. When in doubt, always bet on yourself.

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