It’s been almost exactly a year since it happened. The absolutely last thing in the world I would ever have imagined. I started out for Georgia, looking forward to spending some time with my daughter and my grandkids and to all the Thanksgiving festivities we had planned. Instead I ended up in the hospital and returned home, minus my left leg, right before Christmas. Talk about starting over.
There were times when I really didn’t think I could do it. How could I learn to walk again, drive, wash dishes, at the age of 73? I was too old to start over. Only that isn’t true. I’m doing everything, driving all over the country, going to the Y to exercise, having my family here for Thanksgiving and doing all the cooking, and probably a lot of the dishes. And I’m writing. I’m even starting a new series. Now, that’s starting over.
When I look back, I’ve started over constantly. Like everyone of us, there have been chapters in my life when the change I faced was joyous. Like having my first child. Talk about a life changer. Others were a lot harder, like the death of someone you love, or getting divorced. But you don’t give up. You start over.
But we start over in small ways as well. As I put on my leg this morning, (doesn’t that sound strange) I thought about all the times in my writing life that I’ve started over. When the book stunk, I’ve started over. When the next chapter just wouldn’t come, I’ve gone back to the beginning and started over. And when I got rejected by the agent I really wanted to work with, or my manuscript came back from the umpteenth publisher, I’ve started over. I may have cried a little, or cursed a lot, but eventually I’ve started over. Again.
So, for all you out there with a drawer full of rejection slips, don’t despair. Take another look at that manuscript, see if you can make it better, then get out the list of agents who handle your genre, check off the ones who said no, or take another look at the publishers who will look at unsolicited manuscripts, take a deep breath, now another, and start again. You can do it. I know you can.
Remember, the settlers at Jamestown did it. They started over when only a handful of them were left. And then they went out celebrated their good fortune, which consisted of the fact that they were still alive and finally had something to eat, with the first Thanksgiving. So, think about what you have to be thankful for. You’ve had your flu shot, the refrigerator is full, and you don’t have to pluck the feathers off the turkey.