A few years ago, I was sitting in the high school staff room, enjoying a rare and relatively quiet hour off of teaching. It was the beginning of the school year and a new teacher had joined us on staff, who happened to be sitting in the staff room with me. I didn’t know much about this person so I decided to strike up a conversation with him. I’ll call him Victor.
Diane: So,Victor..I don’t know much about you. How did you come to teach at this school?
Victor: Are you sure you want to hear the story?
Diane: Absolutely. I’m all ears.
Victor: Well, I was teaching at another school but I had always wanted to write a symphony so two years ago, I decided it was time. I quit teaching and holed up in my apartment. I didn’t shave, I didn’t go out, I didn’t eat or sleep well. I was just obsessed with writing a symphony – that was my passion. I sat at the piano for hours – it was tedious, frustrating, emotional work – but I finished. It took me about sixteen months. I sent my creation to every Canadian symphony company and waited for a response. I waited..and waited…I didn’t hear back from anyone. It was devastating.
At this point, I was so emotionally involved with Victor’s story, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t sure how the story was going to end but since Victor was sitting in a high school staff room, I had the feeling that things didn’t work out. So, I asked him this question:
So, Victor…what did you learn from that experience?
Silence…a very long silence.
Victor: I learned that I sucked at writing symphonies so I went back to teaching.
I have never forgotten that story…and I’ve wrestled with the “truth” of Victor’s verdict ever since.
I’m all for not giving up but I also think that there are very valuable and wise, albeit painful, lessons learned from failure. I know – I’ve failed and I’ve learned immeasurable life lessons from doing so. I hope I’m wiser.
I’ve been writing for two years now and I’ve received three rejection letters regarding my first manuscript. Breaking into the publishing world is difficult and I know that rejection is a given for all of us “pre-authors” ( that’s my positive attitude shining through!) but I also know that there are always lessons to be learned when life isn’t unfolding the way I’d planned. I’m well into my second manuscript and I will continue – I’m not giving up but it’s tough going.
I hear Victor’s voice in the distance but I hear God’s voice close by. I believe that God has gifted me with this incredible season of observation, listening, loving people and learning about the writing rhythm of life. I am learning to pursue purpose, not position and the day in, day out discipline of writing continues to provide endless opportunities to improve my grammar, expression and appreciation for the English language.
There is absolute bliss in this journey. All sorts of life “stuff” is unfolding parallel to the writing road but I am experiencing a deep peace and a great resolve to keep pressing on and looking up…in all areas of life.
This is exactly where I’m supposed to be.