By Guest Blogger Cynthia Patton
You might not believe this, but writing and online dating have a lot in common. How do I know this? I’ve been writing (and sadly, dating) for a considerable period of time. Admittedly, I’ve been writing far longer, but after a decade spent using multiple apps and sites, I’m practically a certified dating expert. (Although my lack of success with said dating might undercut this claim.) In any case, I think I’m qualified to make a few comparisons.
For starters, writing and dating both require a proactive approach and a thick skin. Think rhino hide. They also demand that one embrace rejection as part of the process. If you are a writer of any genre, you know the drill. You send out work, it gets rejected. You brush yourself off and submit again.
Dating is more or less the same. For example, a couple years ago I was seeing a therapist. He experienced an unexpected personal crisis and cancelled our fourth date. He explained his reasons, which made sense. Nevertheless, I was disappointed and sad.
The therapist wasn’t sure when he’d be ready to resume dating, so he didn’t want me to hang around, waiting. He wanted me to get back online and “explore new possibilities.” A girlfriend later quipped that’s maybe what he wanted, but I think he needed time to process what had happened. In any case, it didn’t really matter what was or wasn’t going on. For whatever reason, the therapist wasn’t ready to date me.
I accepted his position as graciously as I could and wished him well. Then I spent several weeks feeling sorry for myself. Why, I wondered, couldn’t I find a decent boyfriend? I’d been in a relationship that lasted much of 2010, but since then it had been a steady stream of coffee dates and guys who couldn’t commit. Sure I’d remained friends with most of them, but after eight years of single life, I wanted something long-term. I was tired of making small talk over coffee or a glass of wine.
Dating hasn’t been as easy or as simple as I once thought. Guess what? Publishing isn’t either. The trick is to not take it personally. (No small task, I know.) Accept the result and move on. It’s not about you. Trust me, it’s never about you.
It’s true that sometimes people get lucky. Really lucky. Don’t get me started on my friends and family members who met their current significant other while in the midst of a divorce. I’ve put in way more time and effort and I’m still very much single. Not fair!
Life isn’t always fair. Neither is writing. So I let the therapist go and went back online. Within days I had five men pursuing me. Four asked me out. Three never made it to the second date, but one asked me out again the very next day and we dated for two years. Dating and writing are both about timing.
The therapist is back online and dating again—but not with me. I can see now that the relationship wasn’t a good fit. More and more I’m accepting the therapist’s assertion that dating, like writing, is a numbers games. As he put it, you try on a lot of different shoes and see what fits best. Did I mention he was Italian?
Bottom line: if I want to see my writing in print, I have to send it out over and over despite rejections that sting. If I want to have a man in my life, I need to keep dating—despite all the weirdness, uncomfortable situations, and yes, rejection. I need to remind myself, again and again, that rejection isn’t personal, it’s not a measure of my worth. It’s a simple matter of taste and timing. Nothing more.
When you eventually find an editor or agent who loves your words or a guy who finds you beautiful despite your flaws—and you will, I promise; stick with it and you will—oh is it ever worth the wait.
Now get out there and write.