My latest novel, The Anti-Mage, virtually wrote itself. Vastly better than previous novels, this book is saleable, I’m sure.
As the rejections pile up, though, I begin to doubt. I doubt the book’s merits, my wisdom in making this leap of faith to writing, and my fundamental value as a human being. Did I make a huge mistake in shutting down my science outreach business in order to write? Have I made myself nothing more than a chauffeur, gardener and cook for my family? Have I fallen into the stay at home mom role I have striven all my life to avoid? These questions haunt me more with every rejection, with every day I troll the Internet for new agents to approach.
Despair, like the cat curled up under my desk, lurks at my feet. It raises its head now and again to stare malevolently at me, dismissing my efforts to be something as nothing but bothersome noise.
I know there is nothing for it but to soldier on. Decisions have been made, and cannot be undone. I must carry on as though I have faith in my books and myself. And so I resort to food therapy.
No, I don’t go on a chocolate binge—I know it will leave me feeling worse than I started—but I choose food that makes me happy. It could be comfort food, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. It could be food that is pretty, like a salad sprinkled with bright nasturtium flowers. It could be food that takes skill to make, like tortillas. Or it could be food that I know will make my family happy, like spaghetti with tofu meatballs. Whatever the food is, I choose it to make me feel better about myself and my lot in life.
Does it help?
Well, a plate of food is never going to sell a book, no matter how pretty or comforting it is, but it does make it easier to manage the daily grind of criticism and rejection. To be able to step away from work and focus on something as simple and fundamental to life as food can be a profoundly centring activity.
And a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt, either.