Courage comes in many forms. The firefighter who runs back into a blazing home shows us courage. The army veteran who goes back for yet another tour of duty shows us courage. The child who holds her crying dad, even though she is the one going through chemotherapy; that is courage.
But I am none of those things.
I am a twenty-three year old, middle class guy from Canada. The epitome of my courage for most of my life was usually watching horror movies (a lot of horror movies) with the lights out. My courage was going in for that first kiss. My courage was riding a motorcycle for the first time, or getting back on it after my first wipeout. When you juxtapose how courageous I have been next to those few examples up above, it is not even a real comparison.
You might say that, given how privileged my life has been, my courage has been relative. What I thought were big deals were trivial to other people. Still, when it is something that you are up against, the smallest thing can be the scariest.
So when I say that it took every ounce of courage I have to send out my first query email for my novel, some people might scoff. And if I were to look at it through the eyes and respiratory mask of that firefighter in a burning building, I might scoff too. But the sheer force of will it took to hit that send button was unprecedented in my lifetime.
But why? I have never had a problem being in front of people, presenting in school, speaking in public, never shied away from being the center of attention – I was usually actively looking for it. But this was different. This was the culmination of more than two years of work, two years of my passion made tangible. It was a world that I had created, characters that I had molded and breathed life into. Those characters had become real; their actions were personal, their pain my own. I could see that world as well as I could ours. It was mine and it was perfect.
But what would happen if I hit that send button, and they said no? Undoubtedly, my world would end. The skies would go dark, the trumpets would sound, it would be the Apocalypse. So what happened?
They said no.
Luckily for everyone, the world did not end when I received that email back. In fact, it was a rather lovely day, if I remember correctly. Work had gone well and the sun was shining. I read that email, that rejection, and I thought that I just needed to go back and look at my query letter. Because that was all it was, a rejection of my idea. In this day and age, a twenty-three year old can't send his manuscript to a big publishing company. You're lucky if your query letter is even actually read.
So I grew from that experience, and that is all we can do from rejection. There is no use dwelling on it, only to learn from it. So I still have my novel, I have only sent out one query since then and have been rejected one more time. I am still sitting on that novel, but I am in no way stagnant. That is why I launched this blog. I am putting my writing out there for all to see, my emotions and aspirations in text form. This is my way of flipping off that rejection. But courage doesn't end with a single act.
Courage is a process. Courage is going into the burning house to save someone and then putting your life on the line to walk them out. Courage is getting back from the war and choosing to go back. Courage is going through the chemotherapy again and again, staying strong for everyone who loves you.
That is not my courage, it can't be. My courage is having my passion rejected, but never letting it stop me. Courage is getting that rejection letter, but going back, making some changes, and hitting send again. You might even see parts of my novel posted on here, because I am not done with it.
I am just getting started.