What happens when the winds of adversity blow in your life? Do they flatten you, knock you down, stop your growth? Or, like [deep rooted] trees, do you grow stronger?
These are the words I read in my devotional yesterday, and they've bounced around in my mind ever since. Let's continue the tree metaphor for a moment, shall we? When rejection blows the leaves of your canopy and critics pull on the strength of your limbs, do you waver? When your flowers wilt from the lack of nourishing encouragement and you thirst for acceptance, do you question why you even try?
And I'm sure you have too.
When I look back on the last few years, I realize that something in me has learned to adapt to harsh conditions. Writers learn how to bend, starve, and regrow. Agents and publishers tell us our work is "just not right for them" and we turn around and continue down the road of martyrdom by writing yet another book. We're either devoted, passionate, or just plain crazy. Or probably all three.
The world knows how to mistreat us, and it doesn't need the additional help of form letters and bad reviews; yet that's what writers face. Most jobs require a quarterly/yearly review of your work. Most of the time this is done from a supervisor who determines if you've been earning your keep around the office. For writers, we work countless hours and face a mountain of NOs and then if we receive a YES, we face another monsterous mountain of reviews. Imagine working the entire year at your 9-5 and your boss posts his comments online, for the world to see, and the people of the internet are the ones who determine if you'll keep your job. Terrifying, right? Yep. Welcome to being a writer, where our whole careers are centered around the acceptance of other people - people we have never met.
The question isn't whether or not we can survive; it's can we grow? Sure we'll have seasons when we've shed all we have and are standing in the middle of our own windstorm, leafless and broken. And we'll likely have summers of endless thirst for encouragement. And maybe some long winters full of brutal critique will leave us cold and bitter for a moment. But the hope of spring will always linger just around the corner. A time when we'll be blooming and at our best, when everything, even if for only a moment, will be as it should be.
May our roots be deep, winding, entangled, and captivated by the hope of spring.