I recently got a tattoo of a lion on my back. Like, from my shoulder to my hip. Like, seriously huge.
I did it all because of the New York Public Library.
If you haven’t been, there are these two lions out front named Patience and Fortitude. I got the tattoo because these are the qualities I struggle with most as a writer. Likewise, as an agent, these are the qualities that I see writers struggle with the most:
- Lack of Patience: We all want our books to be in the hands of agents/editors/the world right now now now. We want someone to tell us we’re good enough. We want our book to have a pub date and a cover and fans. The future can’t come soon enough.
- Lack of Fortitude: Many of us think that if our book doesn’t sell, then we will never write anything again. This is it! This is all we are! How silly of us to dream.
I got the tattoo because I needed to be reminded that unless I am patient with the development of my manuscript, unless I am strong in the face of rejection, I will never be a writer. Ever. Even if I get a book deal right out of the gate.
Here’s why: I see writers’ dreams come true every damned day. They get the book deal and they feel like Cinder-fucking-ella. But then the pub date is 2 years away. Then their edits take way too long. Then they get reviews and some of those reviews are bad and Good Morning America says their book isn’t good enough to be on their show.
And it is frustrating. And soul crushing. And it takes the joy out of the thing we’ve all been dreaming about since we were kids so that authors wonder why they’re even doing this at all.
Maybe you don’t have to get a lion tattooed over the entirety of your back (honestly, it may have been a mistake??). But develop these skills. Remember that even if it feels like you are treading water, waiting for your “future life” as an author to begin, you are learning how to have a sustainable life as a writer.
And that’s pretty heroic.
Some would call it lionlike.