Keeping on Track When Dreams Derail 

I got a bit of not-so-good news on the Sunday of our vacation…the prestigious publisher who I had hoped would publish the book on my mentor wrote to say that the project was “not developed adequately” for their publishing house. This was the first book proposal I had ever submitted, and I’m sure it was too sparse. This is territory that I need to get a handle on quickly…there is work to be done.  

   When I first read the email, it was early in the morning, and I had walked down to the lodge to get on wifi. I read the message, read it again, and then felt the prickle of tears. I have never been good at failing- we clarinet players like to succeed, and we work hard to make success happen. But, failure happens, and failure is an important and necessary teacher. I have learned this the hard way many times in my fifty-two years. I am grateful for my failures, as they often pave the way for what is meant to be.   

I walked quickly back to the cabin, feeling the need to sit and think about this, and to tell Dan- Dan my biggest cheerleader. Fear lodged itself in my heart…would Dan be disappointed in me? I needn’t have worried, as after I explained what had happened and a few tears trickled down my face, Dan jumped into what he does best- encouragement. He shared stories of friends who wrote a famous book that took a circuitous route before being picked up by a top publisher. I have no delusions of grandeur, and I know that a book about a clarinet pedagogue is not going to fly off of the shelves. However, I also know that Kalmen Opperman’s contributions the music and the clarinet were significant, and his story deserves to be told…and he trusted me to tell it.   

Today was my first day back in the office, and I got right to work. I emailed several other publishers to ask if they might be interested…and I will keep reaching out to publishers until I find the right one for my book. So now to sit and wait and stay hopeful. The “failure” of not being accepted by my first choice publisher is an opportunity in disguise, a chance to refocus on my goals, and to fall in love again with this book that I have researched for many years. I will advocate for the book, I’ll be persistent… I won’t give up on it- this is just a speed bump along the way. 

  Storms are there to teach us, to make us take ownership of our goals and dreams and to fight for them. I am ready for it, putting my face up to catch the wind and the rain….and always the light.  As my mentor would say, “Next…on to the next.” 


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