The Gift of Hearing “NO”

Watercolor Illustration by Ellen Cappard copyright 2021.

I recently sat down and developed an illustrative portfolio. It was an accomplishment for me as I’m transitioning to work independently. Having this time during the COVID crisis and navigating the best way to support my child and myself can be tricky. I know for sure it’s the right time to do what serves me best and I can be available for her. Instead of feeling the effects of a dismal economy I’ve decided to hone my craft and pursuit my dream of being an author illustrator.

Once I decided, I spent the next eight weeks pouring over my paintings and sketchbooks. It felt exhilarating to explore a dormant part of myself as new. Especially now with more time I allowed myself to obsess over the fine details of a piece. Being productive with a purpose gave me a push at first, but as I approached my personal deadline the looming feeling of what was to come crept in and shook my assurance.

The next steps were quite simple, to release my work. Naturally I had nerves about it, so I decided to break this down to a meaningful process. For me that meant assigning the good and bad outcomes with roles. Framing it this way I can release expectations or values on the outcomes. I also gave myself permission to make mistakes, not be perfect and allow myself to edit and revise this process as I moved forward.

I knew that once I received a yes a new chapter would begin. I knew this experience in between receiving the yes and beginning working as an illustrator meant paying attention to the steps forward. I am ready to begin this integral building of my career and learn valuable lessons about the publishing process. I want to be realistic about this process accepting it will take many steps to achieve the ultimate goal. The work would be collecting the no’s. I would celebrate the no’s as a step closer to the end goal. I appreciate the agents while gave feedback and encouraged me to re-submit my work. Surprisingly their feedback was a fuel to revise instead of a negative let down. This understanding of their feedback drives me to a deeper refining of my work.

I am still working and refining my work. I am still receiving my gifts of no’s, yet I see each one as a personal guide pointing me in the right direction. I am enjoying and exploring where I am now. I have decided to find joy in collecting and dissecting the feedback given as I keep honing my craft. I hope this helps someone on their journey find the true gift hearing “no” can be.

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