There are many things that kinda suck about hitting middle age… like, I don’t have as much energy as I used to… my vision gets continually worse…and I routinely “lose” words—sometimes entire trains of thought—from one second to the next. Yeah, it can be frustrating. But, then again, there are the benefits of hitting middle age. I feel as if I get smarter and smarter with each year that passes…mainly because I learn better. I’m more curious and better equipped to absorb and process knowledge.
And then there’s my favorite perk of being in my forties…self-confidence. I think it has to do with experience. Up until this point, I’ve made a ton of mistakes and I’ve learned from them. I’ve also learned how to apologize when I need to—and how to stand my ground when I don’t. I know myself—I know what I am capable of…and what I’m not. And I’m a whole lot more honest about both.
What this all boils down to is my willingness to trust my gut. This, too, I believe, comes from experience. In fact, there’s a really interesting article on the Psychology Today website about intuition—how it works and when you should trust it. It discusses the patterns which, over time, your subconscious learns to recognize, allowing it to determine the likely outcome of a situation. I don’t understand the science behind all of it, but I’ve got the gist, and I agree…for the most part. What the article does not cover is how to get other people to trust your gut.
And really, why should they? I mean, my husband, yeah, he’d better trust my gut if he ever wants a home-cooked meal again. My radio colleagues…well, I’d hope that by now my reputation and my work would give them confidence in my confidence. But what about someone who doesn’t know you? How to convince them that what appears to be so improbable is, in your mind, a virtual certainty?
Over the last few years I’ve become a published author…largely through the force of my own sheer will. My gut told me I could self-publish. And I did. My gut told me I could get a publishing contract. And I did. My gut told me I could land an agent. And I did. But none of this changes the fact that I’m an unknown quantity to editors, publishers and agents—even my own. They have no reason to trust my gut. In fact, trusting my gut probably goes against everything their gut is telling them!
Or…does it? I mean, is it their gut—their instincts—telling them that they know my capabilities in this field far better than I ever could? Or is it just their assumption based on years of experience with the “average” newbie writer?
Listen, I’ve been tilting at this one particular windmill for four years now—trying to get someone to sit up and take notice of my Reverie trilogy. When I couldn’t find an agent for it, I published it myself. Now that I’ve published it myself, no agent will look at because it’s such a hard sell to get a publisher to even consider a previously published work. Yeah, I get it! I understand how unlikely it is and how busy agents are and how they don’t want to waste time on a project that’s damn near impossible to sell to an editor. But still, it’s “damn near” impossible. Not impossible. And there is a difference—infinitesimal as it may be.
My gut is telling me that I need to find a way to convince someone—just one someone—that I’m not their average newbie writer…because my gut tells me so.
My gut tells me it’s good. Really good. Better than the other stuff I’m writing and selling. Better than a lot of other books out there on the bestsellers lists. My gut tells me that, with a little guidance in marketing and publicity, this thing could explode.
I know my gut. I love my gut. It’s a good, strong, gut that has yet to steer me wrong on anything of major consequence. I’m just not sure how to get anyone else to trust it…and I need to figure that out pretty fast because I’m attending a luncheon this week where there will be agents and editors from the top publishing houses and agencies in the country.
My gut says: “Get in there and sell it, baby!”
My head says: “Don’t be ridiculous, you’ll never get someone else to look at this thing—you can’t even get your own agent to look at it!”
Wait, wait, wait…what was that again? I thought all this middle-aged self-confidence would have eradicated those destructive, negative thoughts. But no…turns out that they’re always going to be lurking someone in my self-conscious, warring with the optimist in me.
It’s a very fine line between intuition and expectation. But my gut tells me I can walk it. And that I will. But I may end up walking it alone.
And maybe that’s what my gut’s had in mind all along.
What do you think? Do you trust your gut? Have you ever had to convince someone else of something based solely on your “hunch?” And how did that work out for you?
What would you do in my shoes?