Getting Published Is Not a Race to the Finish Line

Meg Dowell Writes

As a teenager, I was lucky enough to stumble onto the path of a creative writing mentor. He was helpful in that frustrating way that never seems like it’s making a difference. He never once patted me on the back and said, “Good job.” He never told me I was too good to quit. For about three straight years, he never really said anything “nice” at all.

Except the last thing he’d ever end up saying to me — something I’d waited so long to hear that I’d stopped believing I ever would.

He said, “I bet you’ll be published within the next five years.”

That was his way. Saying in few words what summed up all he’d thought since meeting me.

I panicked.

Suddenly, I had a deadline. One I took very seriously, until I realized I no longer could.

The harder I tried to make it happen, the…

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