No Regrets | Keep Moving Forward | Sara Biren


I have two regrets in life and both of them involve missed concerts: INXS and Chris Cornell. I can’t even remember why I didn’t get tickets to see INXS at the State Theatre in Minneapolis in August of 1997. I’m sure it had something to do with work and grad school and being a broke twentysomething. When Chris Cornell was touring for his last solo album, the Minneapolis concert (also at the State Theatre, incidentally) was on a school night and money was tight, so my husband and I said, “Next time.” Sadly, there was no next time. After Chris died, we adopted an adage: Life is short. Buy the concert tickets. And we always buy them (except for Skid Row in Green Bay in October, because we’re already double-booked that night).

With writing, I live by a different motto, one I’ve been reminding myself of since I started the journey to publication: Keep moving forward.

Writing is hard, and the publication process is harder, with so many moving parts and uncertainties. From market trends to subjective opinions, there’s so much we can’t control. The stoics took the approach of focusing on what we can control and not worrying about what we can’t.

For me, that means writing the best book I can. Reading books in my genre. Learning the craft of writing and enlisting the help of trusted writing partners and beta readers. When the time came to look for an agent to represent me, I focused on what I could control: I polished my work. I took a class on how to write a query. I grew a thick skin, allowed myself a tiny pity party with every rejection, and then dusted myself off and sent out another query.

Along this long journey, yes, I’ve experienced a lot of bumps in the road and unexpected detours. Partnering with an agent or signing a book deal doesn’t automatically mean everything’s going to be all sunshine and rainbows. Far from it. My first agent left the business for another industry the week we’d planned to go out on sub. My editor went on maternity leave (early) when I was in the middle of revisions for my third book and the house hired a freelance editor to work with me. That book came out during a pandemic. Fun times. None of these things were in my control. And honestly, detours like this sometimes lead to amazing people in our corners and places we didn’t even know we needed to visit.

Life is too short for regrets. I don’t regret any decisions I’ve made that have led me to where I am now on this writing journey. I’m going to keep moving forward and control what I can control and believe that there are really good things waiting for me around the corner.


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