When my son went to his college orientation, a professor stood in front of the small group of kids who who'd been admitted to the Fine Art college and told them they were special. When they questioned whether or not *every* professor told their orientation group the same thing, she reminded them that while all the other students (for the most part) had been admitted to their perspective colleges based on their high school records, kids in the fine arts had spent their whole lives preparing. They’d taken private music lessons since they'd been tiny, they'd pursued outside art and painting classes and spent years building a portfolio, they'd been in countless theater productions and took acting, dancing and voice lessons. In other words, even though they'd arrived in the same place as the other kids on campus, they'd put a lot more work into getting there and that made them special. I think writing is like that, too. We spend many, many years writing and sticking it out when it feels like we'll never end up where we want.
I'd bet none of those select few kids in that orientation room - many with scholarships - would say all their years of hard work were worthless. So why do we often feel as if we’ve failed when we spend a long time working on a book, story or article and it doesn’t sell or land us an agent?
Our work is never worthless. It’s only preparation for the places we’re heading.