“When you reject a shortcoming as a failure, what remains is only a varying degree of success.”

January is nearing its end in New England, and what a tease with still months left of winter for green grass to pierce the thawing tundra as if spring were on the horizon.

But were it not for the fleeting nature of grass piercing snow on an unseasonably warm day (I supposed it was only 40 degrees), we, the winter weary, might forget that for real beauty to be revealed truly takes much patience and much time.

In mid-November, I was in communication with several interested literary agents as I continued to pursue representation on behalf of my book-in-progress, THE QUIET LEADER. One in particular, whom I shall refer to as Lauren, was extremely helpful and tendered invaluable advice, even in what would ultimately become her rejection of the project.

Rejection is never an easy pill to swallow. Even when it comes by way of perfectly reasonable and rational causes, rejection instills varying degrees of doubt, insecurity, impatience, worry, frustration and sadness.

The invaluable advice contained within Lauren’s rejection beckoned a lot of contemplation, and ultimately, second-guessing. What I came to realize is that when it comes to the pursuit of dreams and other passion projects (especially one with such a lofty, idealist vision, as with THE QUIET LEADER), there is a constant struggle between remaining steadfast, “staying the course,” and not losing sight of the end goal, and the seemingly contradictory but utterly vital aspect of being fluid,  innovative, and open at all times to improving the strategy that will help you ultimately to achieve the goal.

For Dreamers to Circle the Wagons

On the surface, this dilemma would seem to be represented by the stark differences between “perseverance” and “feebleness,” or “stubbornness” and “flexibility.” Upon closer examination, however, the scenario is hardly so black-and-white.

The pursuit of distant but passion-driven goals (as with THE QUIET LEADER, in my case) will likely never be achieved if done in a blind pursuit, willfully unaware of criticism and disagreements in opinion and with the ignorant assumption that were it only for longevity and endurance that the goal will be realized. To the contrary, often times we dream-pursuers must pause and circle the wagons.

Dreams are elusive. They are ever-changing, because what we want in life often changes by the day or year or because of developing circumstances of our lives. Many times, dreams change if only because we cannot determine how to see them through to reality. And so they are left by the wayside.

Partly, yes, pursuing dreams requires endurance, longevity, and perseverance.We must be confident enough in ourselves to see the dreams through to reality, however long that may take. But to march blindly under the assumption that the dream only requires the empty passage of time will be a fatal mistake.

The pursuit of dreams requires flexibility and innovation. In other words, you have to be willing to alter and improve the means you are using to achieve the dream in order to finally reach the end goal.

The Evolution of THE QUIET LEADER

I spent much of November and December pausing in order to properly reflect upon the methods I was using to achieve my ultimate goals. Through this introspection and reflection, I feel that my project, THE QUIET LEADER, has substantially evolved in the span of just a few weeks, to the point where I believe it is a much more viable contender for publication — not just because I believe in it, but because it is now a much more viable book option and capable of swaying literary agents, editors, publishers, and even readers to believe in it as well.

Below is a time-elapsed video of just over an hour of me working on the new and improved book proposal and query letter for THE QUIET LEADER, along with some social networking and website promotion mixed in between (which should help answer the question, “Dave, what the hell do you do all day?”)

Don’t fear rejection, criticism, and differences of opinion. When they come, circle the wagons and reflect upon how they can be used to improve your strategies. It is through rejection that the best in your project, and the best means to achieve your dreams comes out.