After years of immediate rejection, queries, more rejection, more writing, and more rejection, I had finally received one shining ray of hope. I received some overwhelmingly good news in an email from my agent. She had sent my novel proposal to a bunch of different publishing houses, and the initial interest level was high.
Immediately a question flared up in my mind: Should I share this news? On one hand, it was really good news! I couldn’t wait to tell my friends! On the other hand, if I told people, and then every publishing house decided against it, I’d have even more failure explaining to do.
I wanted to bring people into my story, but I also didn’t want to drag them on a roller coaster ride, especially not one that ended in disappointment.
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While we tend to define our lives by the highs and lows, the victories and the tragedies, those moments actually make up a very small percentage of our years. Most of our time here on earth is lived in the messy middle – the waiting, the uncertainty, the long spans of time when we’re trying to decide between this and that.
Yet, for so many reasons, we don’t want to share in the midst of the mess. Maybe we’re afraid to hope that this particular story will turn out well. Maybe we’re worried that by sharing too soon, we’ll drag others down when it all falls apart. Maybe we secretly believe that even this latest effort will crash and burn, and we’re already trying to forget about it.
But the messy middle is where we connect with each other as human beings. When we only share our triumphs after they have occurred, we risk alienating those around us who are still waiting for their ship to come in. When we wait to share our stories until we can give “The 10 Ways to Succeed” spiel, we’ve missed a crucial opportunity to pull another human being alongside us, in the mess, and walk that path together.
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A few months ago my wife peeked her head around the corner and asked me one of the last questions I expected her to ask.
“So, are you ready for baby number six?” she asked, her unblinking eyes wide open.
“Really?” I asked.
She nodded. I took a deep breath.
“Really?” I asked again. “Are you sure?”
The question then became, “When do we tell the kids?” We knew our other children would be ecstatic to learn there was another baby on the way, but Maile had miscarried twice. Should we try to spare them the potential heartache? Or should we tell them and involve them in the unfolding story?
In the end we opted to tell them. We explained the potential for disappointment as well as the hope we held to. Now we’re living that particular story together, as a family, and it feels like the right way to live.
* * * * *
Share your story now, where you are. Don’t wait for the revelation or the success or the culmination. You may have no idea how things are going to turn out, but that’s okay. We need to hear what it’s like while you’re on the journey, in the messy middle.