Homiliesby Ila Campbell
Kick me when I’m down. When it rains it pours. Anything that can go wrong will. The hits just keep on coming.
Yeah. Really cheery. But I admit, that’s the mood I’ve been in this week. I’ve had this impending cloud of doom hovering over me, drizzling its bad luck all over me, and I’m just waiting for either a downpour or a lightning bolt.
I know that’s defeatist thinking, but I’ll tell you why it all came down to this one week:
I’m not published.
Now, this is a condition I’ve been living with for about nine years now, since I started submitting to publishers. I should be used to it now. Developed a thicker skin, learned to roll with the punches. I thought I had. I really did. Until.
Until I got turned down for a promotion this week at my "real" full-time job. The reason? I WASN’T PUBLISHED YET! Exactly. This is the job where I’ve been run ragged trying to do all the new tasks assigned to me this year so that I haven’t written a word in almost three months. Where up until now my writing was held in thinly-disguised scorn because it wasn’t literature with a capital L (I’m in academia), but suddenly both careers careened into each other. My lack of success in one field crossed over into the other. And it was hard to take.
This is the same week that my manuscript at St. Martin’s loses its exclusive. So each morning I’ve also been waiting for an email from my agent saying they’ve finally read it. And hopefully, bought it. There’s about 12 hours left. Will they read it before then? From their track record, I won’t be holding my breath. And the cloud of doom keeps whispering ‘no.’
So all week long I’ve been feeling this pressure to give up writing novels. Surely it would be easier to send out academic papers and get them published and thus succeed in at least one field, right? And it does come down to a choice, since I have three kids in my house. I don’t have time for both. So I should probably do the smart thing – the thing that will keep the raises coming in, give me job security, offer me stable employment when I move back to the States – and focus on language teaching instead of romance novels.
Except I can’t. I can’t give up the one thing in my world that is purely creative and immensely satisfying when it’s going well. I made a choice years ago that the teaching itself and my outside creative interests were more important to me than gaining titles and prestige in the academic world. I also think of all the women that I knew growing up who sacrificed their desires for stability (of marriage, of jobs, whatever). I. JUST. CAN’T. DO. IT.
So I guess I’m just going to go on looking for that silver lining in my cloud of doom. Turn my frown upside down. Tell myself it ain’t over til the fat lady sings.
And wait. With hope.