Have you ever worked months, maybe years, toward a goal you really, truly wanted? I’m talking blood-sweat-and-tear-shedding, sleep-depriving work for this goal in which the pain never bothered you because your excitement and hope blunted it, especially when success was within reach; so close you could stretch out your fingertips and brush the goal’s smooth, pristine surface. Only to have your heart’s desire tip over, fall off the pedestal and shatter on the tile floor into a million teeny tiny pieces? Along with your heart.
If you’re a writer who has received a rejection letter, you understand exactly how I feel.
I really believed this manuscript was the one. The manuscript that would bring my first contract, start my career, drop me on the path toward New York Times bestsellerdom, and keynote speaker at RWA’s national conference. (What, your dreams don’t include being a future keynote speaker?) Anyway…the editor had good things to say about my writing, but thought my twist was a little too different. Argh! (Side rant: I’m beginning to think the NY publishers don’t want “a new twist on an old story” they want “slight curvatures”.) Granted she was only the first editor we’ve heard back from on the new project, and my agent and I still love it and wholeheartedly believe in it, but the rejection knocked me down anyway. What can I say? I’m a sensitive girl. So as I was sinking into the quicksand of self-pity and crushed dreams, I thought about the Daruma I gave my husband for Christmas.
A Daruma is a traditional Japanese wishing doll that helps us achieve our dreams. When you get a Daruma, you set a special goal and then color in one of the doll’s eyes signifying the start of your commitment to work toward achieving it. Then you place Daruma where you can see him everyday – either at home or at work. He motivates you to stay focused on your goal. Once your goal has been achieved, you signify your accomplishment by coloring in his other eye.
Daruma’s are made from papier-mâché, are rounded, hollow, and weighted on the bottom so they will return to their original upright position if tilted or knocked on their side (like a Weeble Wobble – remember those?). Because of this unique ability to right itself, Daruma is associated with the Japanese proverb, nana korobi yaoki, which states, “Fall down seven times, get up eight”. In other words, the proverb and the doll represent persistence and perseverance. Not only is that a good writing motto, it’s a good life motto.
Daruma reminds us to never, ever give up on our dreams. No matter how many rejections we may receive.