by Kathleen Ernst
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the focus on what’s truly important: pausing to reflect on our blessings, especially such simple joys as good food and family or friends. No commercialism, no distractions. (OK, I understand that football can distract. Not a problem in my house.)
I recently heard a gifted speaker share emerging science about the benefits of developing an mindset of gratitude. Those who tend to view life with thanksgiving are, in general, happier and healthier.
I’ve thought about that as I saw the buzz online lately about advice that celebrated novelist Philip Roth recently gave to a younger writer:
“I would quit while you’re ahead. Really, it’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you.”
The children’s mystery I have coming out in February will be my twenty-fifth book, so obviously I have a lot to feel grateful about. That doesn’t mean I’m completely oblivious to the issues Roth mentions. I wrote novels for 20 years before I was offered a book contract. I’ve since written a few that, despite my best efforts, never found a publisher. I’ve certainly had my share of bad days, even heartbreaks. (Trust me. I have.)
However, I can’t imagine ever not writing. I can’t imagine ever advising someone with stories to tell to not write them. The publishing industry can euphemistically be called challenging, but that is quite different from the process of writing itself. And these days, with the rise of self-publishing and e-books, writers have a lot more options than we used to.
So despite all the ups and downs, the long hours and periodic disappointments, I’m very grateful to be a working writer. I’m grateful for the other writers and teachers who helped me along the way. I’m grateful for my supportive family, and for my agent and my editors who make my career possible. And I’m enormously grateful to the readers who have graced my life along the way.
Wishing you all a holiday season.