I’ve had an interesting couple of weeks. I’ve been talking to an agent about a book proposal. The book is already written, but in talking to the agent I’ve come to realize that in order for him to take me on as a client, I would need to entirely rewrite the book. I gave his suggestions a shot with a few pages the other day and he still wasn’t happy. This is after a series of rejections about another book proposal with the same agent.
I kind of have the feeling that no matter what I do, no matter how I rewrite the book, there’ll be parts of it he’s not satisfied with.
This is a problem for me.
Once I finish a large task to acceptable standards, I rarely like to go back and reevaluate. I’m all for editing, but entirely rewriting a whole book just looms too large for me.
In thinking about the whole thing I’m reminded of the adage that you can’t please everybody.
Trying is frivolous and will only cause more stress for you. At the same time, though, I don’t want to give up, either. I don’t want to be defeated by own inability to accept that trying to please other people is a waste of time.
Not only is it unhealthy to worry about what other people think, it’s also stressful to try to live up to their standards.
As a person with schizophrenia, stress is something I have a good deal of trouble with. I’ve learned through the years to take it easy on myself and complete things in stride.
The idea of rewriting an entire book over the next however many months is a task I’m not sure I want to take on. This is especially true considering the fact that not a month ago I was under some pretty severe depression.
I keep coming back to the idea that the standards this agent has are, though not impossible, extremely difficult for someone in my situation to attain. It almost seems like I’m spinning my wheels trying to get the exact specifications for this book correct. If he isn’t even satisfied with the first two pages, what exactly am I getting myself into?
The fact of the matter is that sometimes you have to stop trying and that’s OK. It doesn’t make you a bad person if something is beyond your capabilities. It just makes you aware of what you can and can’t do.
There are some people in this world who will never be happy with what you have to offer and trying to please them is like Sisyphus trying to push the stone up the hill. Essentially it’s an exercise in futility. I think that’s a teaching moment right there.
The only person any of us should be actively, consciously trying to please is ourselves. After all, we’re the ones who have to live in our own skin. It’s much easier to do that if we’re happy with ourselves and our work and the things we’ve done with our lives.
I haven’t decided yet whether to keep going with this agent. Part of it is coming to terms with the fact that I have my mental health to maintain. Part of it is the notion that he might never be happy with anything I have. If worse comes to worst I can always self-publish my books.
I think we all have to ask ourselves, though, is all this effort worth it? If it’s not, it may be time to move on.