F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, "Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."
Sometimes I forget that. It's easy in today's world, with how closely connected we all are and how easy it is for jealousy to take us when we witness others' successes. It takes effort to practice gratitude and it's a battle I've constantly fought since my first book was published.
There's always another author who's made it big, who's a best-seller now, who got optioned for film, who is smarter and more beautiful and more talented and generally damn better than you. And comparing yourself to others and their success only destroys your own sense of worth.
So I avoid social media often. I keep a small company of good, devoted, hard working friends who focus on bolstering each other instead of tearing each other down. I work my ass off and pray every night that God will give me a chance to get a little better.
Because that is my greatest fear. That one day the words will peter out and I'll be left with blank pages, or worse, pages filled with something akin to vomit.
Don't get me wrong; I still pray for bigger deals, for landing an agent, for my friends to get big deals or important agents, for some actor to read my book and decide it must become a movie (hear that Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Tom Hardy, or anyone else on my Pinterest boards???), and for me to someday be good enough at this writing gig that I can do it full time.
But most of all, I pray that this strange ability to string words together into a shifting tale doesn't go away. I don't know if I could survive that.
Sometimes, in the midst of the fear and panic and general anarchy that makes up a writer's life, courage makes an appearance. It's rare and I've found that it often doesn't come in the guise we expect. Courage has never shown up on my doorstep with a battle axe and plate armor, roaring about quests and grabbing the balls of life, while quaffing mead. In my experience, courage is the tiny voice whispering right behind my shoulder when I'm exhausted and sleep-deprived and emotionally drained and ready to call it quits forever because surely, quitting would be easier than experiencing the misery and self-loathing of missing my daily word count or not getting my phrasing correct or putzing 8 of my 12 work hours away on the Internet.
My courage is shy. It's no bigger than a thimble and often gives the same illusion of solidness. My courage only comes out when I forget about it. It's never around when I desperately need it, no matter how hard I look, how loudly I cajole, how furiously I threaten.
My courage believes in karma and divine justice. It has an unhealthy devotion to the concept that if you are a good person who works hard, you will be rewarded. It's never been wrong about that, so I can't really argue the point, no matter how often I grumble about it.
It likes to peek its head around corners and inspect the situation before giving in to peer pressure, although it sometimes caves and skips along for a while before figuring out that it's made a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad mistake. It prefers to make choices about which loose leaf tea I'll drink than which direction my life is taking (although I suppose tea choices are important life decisions). It agonizes over whether I want to buy the 12 pack or 24 pack of colored pencils and then parades around with its chest puffed out over that extra $0.70 I spent to get the fancy set. It considers anything but clear nail polish to be a coup; it collapses in exhaustion after I get a pedicure. It sometimes scrapes together $5 so I can buy a bargain bouquet of flowers at the store simply because they'll look pretty on my kitchen table.
I'm blessed with the Ferdinand of courage.