A LESSON FROM PETER RABBIT
Rome wasn’t built in one day. So the saying goes. Neither were our dreams (OK, for some people, that’s a definite yes, but even they will tell you that it felt like it took forever).
When it comes to us, neurotic writers, it might feel like it’s been forever and a day. First, you have this brilliant idea, then you start writing. Suddenly, it feels like the worst idea in the world, but you keep going. When you’re finally done, there’s the gruesome task of writing a query, finding an agent, a publisher, an audience. There’s the fear of rejection. But the initial rejections are far worse than you ever imagined. They leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth and shattered a self-esteem.
That’s the life of a writer. No wonder, Hemingway turned to alcohol.
But this isn’t a post about anything negative. No, this is a post about resilience and love of one’s art. So many writers before us have threaded this path and were eventually published. One of my favorite authors is Beatrix Potter, who self-published her own book in 1901, after getting tired of receiving rejection letters from publishers for The Tale of Peter Rabbit, a story about a mischievous rabbit who wears human clothes.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit became so successful that Frederick Warne & Co, one of the six publishers who had turned her down, reconsidered and published it almost a year later.
Ms. Potter did the same thing (self-publish, that is) another book, The Tailor of Gloucester, after she couldn't reach an agreement with her publisher. Talk about taking matters into your own hands.
I love stories that take me back to my childhood, and The Tale of Peter Rabbit is one of those stories. I usually read it on the first day of summer (kind of a yearly tradition). If you haven't yet, please pick it up. Not that Ms. Potter needs the money, but we need to be reminded that success doesn't happen overnight.
In the words of Beatrix Potter: “Believe there is a great power silently working all things for good, behave yourself and never mind the rest.”