I've often heard writers lament the fact they spend months or years on a project, yet it doesn't sell. Even if the chances of publishing with a major publishing house are slim--and they know that going in--they feel that if the effort didn't result in that publishing contract they coveted, they've wasted their time.
I've always believed that if your time is spent doing what you love, it's never a waste.
When I've mentioned this to frustrated writers, emphasizing that if you want to write, you need to love the process as much as the contract, I hear, "Well, that's easy for you to say. You're published."
Well, today I pursued something I've long dreamed of doing, even though I know the chances of nabbing that ultimate prize are slim: I went to an open casting call for The Amazing Race.
My dad flew in from Colorado to join me at the audition. We followed the directions and showed up at 8:30 am, and the line was already all the way around Bernie & Phyl's, the furniture store hosting the event. The sight of the line in itself deterred a few people, but we expected it. The Amazing Race is a phenomenal show, and as with publishing a book, appearing as a contestant is a dream shared by many. We waited outdoors in line nearly four hours before we were seen. We were asked to stand in front of a camera were told we had one minute to talk about why we wanted to be on the Race, and boom...done.
Realistically, our odds of making the show are slim. There were easily a thousand people at the Boston casting call, and I imagine the show's producers are seeing audition tapes from all over the country. But the people both directly in front of us and behind us were so interesting that the four hours flew by. We had a blast talking about past contestants, what strategies worked and didn't, how we'd race, and about all the different locations where the show's been filmed. Better yet, my dad and I got to know the friendly mother and son behind us (she's a nurse and hypnotist, while he's spent time as a ski instructor in Breckenridge) and the witty couple in front of us (women who married as soon as it became legal for them to do so in Massachusetts.) While we heard other teams exiting the audition mumbling that they'd probably wasted their time, the minute my dad and I walked out, our first words were, "I'd do that again!" Not because we did anything spectacular in our video, but because we enjoyed the process.
If you're a writer, think of the hours spent in front of your computer the same way. You may or may not get a publishing contract. But if you find joy in the process, in the sheer intellectual stimulation of what you're doing, the time spent is never a waste.