August 17, 2010


Remember that contest submission I was preparing for the East of Eden Writers Conference? Well, the conference -- and its contest -- have been canceled. Not enough people registered to make it economically feasible to put on the event, and on top of that, the venue closed.

I'm disappointed. I'm sure the members of my writing club who spent the past year organizing the conference are even more disappointed. They've been working hard. It would have been a good conference, and it's a shame things didn't work out.

There tends to be a lot of disappointment along the path to success in writing. Last year I collected a large number of rejection letters. At first it was cool simply to be rejected, because it made me feel like a legitimate writer, but after a while I became impatient for the happy ending to my struggle. After a longer while, I understood that my novel and I weren't yet good enough. It was disappointing and demoralizing and no fun at all.

But I got past it. I can't figure out how to say the next part without sounding like a motivational speaker, so I'll just go with it: Staying on that path to success requires persistence, resilience, and a weird combination of honest self-assessment and overconfidence. Instead of quitting, I worked on another novel and focused on becoming a better writer. Disappointment isn't fatal.

I hope the conference planners can console themselves with knowing how many valuable skills and connections they gained while organizing. And I hope they are able to offer some type of smaller event or contest this fall, as has been hinted. I know that my own work on my first chapter and synopsis was definitely not wasted. I'm going to need those same pages to be as strong as possible when I next start collecting rejection letters -- and maybe this time a happy ending.

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