Two Words to Remove From Your Vocabulary

“I can’t.”

Ugh. Those two words put my Vickie Secrets in a wad because it’s so defeatist. It’s not unusual to hear these words in the publishing industry, and it makes me want to scream because it normally follows a conversation like this:

“I never thought publishing would be so hard.”
“I’ve had a ton of rejections.”
“My editor doesn’t understand me.”
“My agent won’t get return my calls.”

“I can’t.” Blah.

Here’s the deal; publishing is hard. Damnably hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s why vanity presses and self publishing got their claims to fame. But there is a ton of money and time put into publishing a book and getting it out to the marketplace. Does anyone really believe that every single cancer story/divorce story/addiction story is meant to be published? Sorry, but no. If publishers are going to sink tens of thousands of dollars into producing a book, they’re gonna be sure it’s a book they’re pretty darn certain will sell.

We’ve gotten to be a society of victims, so facing tough challenges invariably elicits a tossing up of the arms and uttering, “I can’t.” Publishing isn’t for the weak, and thar be no crying in publishing, except when penning your name across a contract.

Instead of looking for ways to say “I can’t,” look for ways to say, “Yeah, I can do that,” or “Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!” Perspective is the lifeblood of happiness. If you’re drawn to writing, then accept there will be challenges – big challenges – and be determined to enjoy the journey.

There is only one instance when you may add “I can’t” to your vocabulary: “S’cuse me, would you like to put your glass of wine down?”

Here’s a beautiful woman who never let the words “I can’t” invade her life. Huzzah. Now go out and be brilliant.

7 Responses to Two Words to Remove From Your Vocabulary

  1. Ms Price – you’re priceless! Sorry you probably hear that too often. I’m sitting at my screen wondering what to try to write next, and up pops your blog. For a few years I’ve been gleaning bits of wisdom from your words, but this one kicks it! I don’t write in your genre, so you won’t be hearing from me in that department, but I’m sure glad to hear from you! I’m certainly not going to quote a certain campaign slogan, but I certainly won’t feel all defeatist today!

    Write On!

  2. ericjbaker says:

    Great video to support your message. Go Jennifer! Last I checked, self-pity has yet to bring about a single achievement.

  3. Sending out submissions reminds me of making job applications and the chances of landing a decent deal in a recession are about the same. But I know plenty of people who have succeeded on both fronts through sheer determination and talent.

    I have Edgar A. Guest’s wonderful poem “It Couldn’t Be Done” pinned up by my desk. Of course, he was writing about all those people who say “you can’t”, but telling you to ignore them and just roll up your sleeves and get on with it.

  4. Thank you, Connie. I have heard it a few times (oddly enough!), and I thank you for your kind words.

    Eric: Excellent statement! No one ever struck gold by uttering “I can’t.”

    Go you, Sarah!

  5. Lynn, what’s especially good about this post is that no matter how long we tread the boards, we always need the encouragement. It’s not a quick bit o’ luck we’re striving towards, but a long-term plan. I can honestly admit that even with constant stalls and side-tracks, overall, both the quality of the writing and the visibility of the work improves with constant gardening. Thanks for another round of priceless wisdom!

  6. Cathie P. says:

    Enjoyed your words of encouragement. Inspiring people in moving forward from setbacks is always a good thing. Live and write in the positive.

  7. Amen to that, Lynn, and your words apply far beyond the world of publishing.

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