The legend* goes like this: John Lennon met Yoko Ono at a gallery that was exhibiting her artwork. One of her pieces was a canvas that was mounted on the ceiling. One tiny word was written on it. To read the word, one had to climb the ladder and then use an attached magnifying glass. John did. The word was 'yes.'
Later on, John said that if the word had been "no," or something negative like he had expected, he would have thought nothing of it. But something about the blatant positivity struck a chord with him. He had to meet the artist responsible.
Sometimes I feel like being in the publishing world is like climbing a million ladders only to find the word "no," written at the top of each one. Sometimes it's a little more elaborate: "Maybe but…probably not." "Interesting idea but…it'll never sell." "What in the name of god's good green earth is that drivel?!" [That last one might be more of an inner monologue thing.]
It can get frustrating at best. Downright heartbreaking at worst.
But then, the beauty of it too is that there is always one more ladder to climb. One more idea to try. One more agent to query. One more revision to make.
And sometimes, just when you least expect it, you trudge up those steps and find that one word: "yes."
And you know what? Not only is it all the sweeter because of all the nos that came before it, but you learn to appreciate the littlest yeses too. Yes, that agent wants a partial! Or yes, my book is in my local bookstore! Or yes, a 9-year-old just wrote me a fan email!
Just for today, I'm going to put aside all the nos and take a long look at all the yeses in my life. Would you consider doing the same? And if so, how about you share your yeses with me in the comments section!
*There is debate about to whether that's really how they met but it's a story that always stuck a chord with me anyway, whether it's completely true or not.