The Wanting Game

I am, alas, going to sound a bit pedantic here. Forgive me. I think that the farther up the ladder you are, I’m also going to sound kind of amateurish. So, please forgive that.

Are you ready then? Here we go.


Let’s go back to your childhood. Do you remember when you started taking lessons in _____? Because you thought it’d be cool to _____? Do you remember how awful you were at first? I come from a musically inclined family. I played the baritone. I started in sixth grade. There were a lot of squeaks and blats, and lots of tone deaf renditions of Mary’s Little Lamb. I did get better.

Let’s go back to a class that really challenged you in high school or college. My first philosophy test was a C. It was a boring recap of the contents of the articles I read, and my first experience that college teachers want your own thoughts and extrapolations in philosophy. I finished with an A-. I got better.

How’s about that first day on the job? Let’s…not talk about my first year of high school teaching. It took that long to get hazed by the kids, to learn about the patriarchal environment of a small town school, and how to work within that system. The second year was better, and although I chose not to stay in high school education, I got better at the job.


Writing then. Remember your first story? Your first book? Your first “good” rejection? Your first request for a partial manuscript? A full? Several fulls? An almost offer of representation? It’s great if we get farther and farther along the trail. How frustrating to not get there.

Two things:

1. It takes a while to learn to do anything well. To master a craft. It takes a while to write something that is good enough. Gotta live with that. Got no choice there.

2. It only takes one yes. One message in a bottle. One short straw. One number picked between one and ten.

The first point is a question of skill. Work and wait. Try not to be demoralized while you work and wait. You will be, of course. Even when you’ve published books, you’ll probably still play these I’m not good enough games. And you aren’t. 🙂 But you should keep writing anyway.

The second point is the role of luck or subjective preference. And you can’t do anything about whether someone is going to pluck you out from all the other straws, from all the other numbers. Stop worrying about that, because you can’t do nothing about that.

In closing, go out and buy a teddy bear so you can have free hugs when you’re feeling down. I got nothin’ else. Get to work.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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