~ By Caro Carson
Two mini-events at my computer conspired to teach me a lesson about life and about publishing, all before my morning coffee had a chance to kick in.
First, my computer obligingly flashed the date at me: January 31st. Today is the last day of the first month, the last day of the month that began with high hopes and New Year’s resolutions. My resolution, as usual, had focused on health. If I’m healthy, then my family benefits, my writing benefits, every aspect of my life benefits. Last year, I’d been derailed mid-way through an otherwise decently-healthy year by a broken foot, and I hadn’t gotten back on the fitness wagon, although the crutches had been put away and that cursed boot had come off. On January 1st, I had resolved to get back on track. I’d do some yoga, some walking, some swimming – in short, get back in motion. I’d even bought new running shoes. Conventional wisdom says it takes thirty days to start a new habit. I knew one month ago that today, January 31st, would mark the day my resolution had become a habit.
Except, it’s not a habit yet. You see, I haven’t worked out thirty times. In fact, I didn’t get myself to my first workout until last week. Iíve now taken three yoga classes and gone for long walks despite the cold weather, but it’s January 31st! I should have thirty days of habit-forming exercise behind me, not seven.
I gulped some bitter coffee and opened my e-mail in box. It was full of ads from stores where I actually shop: a furniture store, a restaurant, a clothing store. “Last Chance!” they all proclaimed. Yes, every single one had sent me an e-mail with “Last Chance!” in their subject line. It was laughable. They send me e-mails all the time, sometimes weekly, sometimes daily (I really do need to unsubscribe from those), and every single one contains some spectacular discount or invaluable coupon. Did they really think that I would believe that this e-mail, this particular one on January 31st, was really my last chance to save at their stores? Absurd. I took another sip of coffee, feeling smug and superior for not being a sucker for their gimmick. “It’s never the last chance,” I thought to myself.
And that’s when those two mini-events happily collided in my brain. Sure, it was January 31st, and I’d only been active for seven days, not thirty, but it wasn’t my last chance. It’s never the last chance. February 22nd is a perfectly great date to have formed a new habit. As I set aside the coffee to write this blog, it occurred to me that this is true in publishing, as well. Have you gotten a form rejection from the final agent on your wish list? Has your manuscript been shopped to the last house without getting a nibble of interest? It’s okay. Those events were not your Last Chance. New agents and agencies announce their interests every week. New digital-first and small presses seem to open as frequently, and traditional publishers are trying new lines and announcing new editors. With the advent of indie publishing, no manuscript has ever received its final rejection. Publishing can always be an option; gone are the days of a rejected manuscript being shoved under a bed, never again to see the light of day. Instead of “Last Chance,” an author’s world today is better served by the motto “Take Chances!”
If an attempt to achieve any personal or professional goal didn’t work out for you in January, there’s always February. And March. And April.
You have all the chances you need.
Enjoy your coffee, enjoy your day, enjoy your journey. Cheers!
Despite a no-nonsense background as a West Point graduate and U.S. Army officer, Caro Carson has always treasured the happily-ever-after of a good romance novel. Now, Caro is delighted to be living her own happily-ever-after with her husband and two children in the great state of Florida, a location which has saved the coaster-loving theme park fanatic a fortune on plane tickets. Caro’s next novel is THE DOCTOR’S FORMER FIANCE, a February release from Harlequin Special Edition.