As I write this, my older daughter stretches at the barre in preparation for her first class as a trainee in the pre-professional ballet company associated with her dance studio. Being chosen was a validation of talent, the first step toward being able to audition for the coveted role of Dew Drop or the Snow Queen in the Nutcracker. She had a day to celebrate, and now the real work is about to begin.
Today every first-year trainee will realize that they are no longer top of their class. Much tougher teachers will now manhandle them into position if their bellies and rears aren’t sufficiently tucked in, and may yell if corrections aren't heeded. Woe to those who may still sickle their feet or bend their leg at inappropriate times. Weekends are no longer a time of homework followed by relaxation. Instead there is more class, or company meetings, or rehearsals for productions where “newbies” like my daughter will be tucked into the background waving a rose while dancers further up the ranks take center stage.
|Photo by Deborah Downes|
Every trainee will happily wave that rose. They will show up to class even if injured. If the injury can be worked around, they will adapt their routine and participate. If not, they will sit in a corner and observe. They will be there if they have the sniffles, if they have a mountain of homework waiting to be done before bed, or if they just broke up with a boyfriend.
Wait, who am I kidding? There will be no time for boys.
My daughter will do all this with a smile because she lives to dance.
Writers could learn a lot from dancers. Being chosen as a trainee is about the equivalent of finishing a manuscript. It’s a leap toward a goal, a reason to yell “squee” and treat yourself to some chocolate. It is no guarantee that you will find an agent, much less earn a publishing contract. Now comes rewriting, submitting, rejections, more rewriting, networking, deadlines, more submitting, more rejection, more rewriting.
There are days it is hard to keep smiling when “the call” has not yet come or, worse, yet another agent has passed or simply not responded to a query at all. On those days I remind myself that rejection is inevitable and out of my control, but how I react to them is up to me. Giving up would not only set a terrible example for my children, but leave me wondering who I am. I choose to do as my daughter did last year when several of her friends were chosen to join a more advanced group while she was left in her old class. She learned what she needed to improve on, showed up for rehearsal every day, and gripped the barre with new determination.
I choose the latter approach. Monday morning, after I send the children off for their first day of school, I will send out a new batch of queries while I wait to hear back on the partials and fulls that are still out there. I will also start researching for a new book, one that has been germinating in my mind for a few weeks now. It’s time, and my sanity may just depend on it.
I’m a writer. I must write again.