Just Keep Swimming: Finding Encouragement Everywhere

As the parent of a small child, my husband and I have found that a larger and larger percentage of our movies start with a rather distinctive castle. And we tend to watch the same movies over and over and over again.

But as a writer – and one who’s been feeling a bit down these past few weeks – I’ve also enjoyed dissecting these same movies and finding both really clever plotting and character development, along with personal encouragement.

Take Finding Nemo (one of the kidlet’s current favorites), where one of the repeated and thematic lines is “Just Keep Swimming.”

You know how I interpret the line:

  • Just keep swimming when things are dark. When you’re scared. And when you have no idea what else you can or should do.
  • Just keep swimming when the world around you seem to be falling in, nothing is going right, and frankly, doom could well be around the next corner.
  • Just keep swimming because it’s the only thing you can do. And it’s the only thing YOU can absolutely control, even as the rest of the world spirals away in free-fall.
  • Just keep swimming when you don’t know where you’re going. When you don’t know where you are, or if anything you do makes any difference.

In a writing career – and in life overall – things aren’t always easy, and sometimes you’re left alone in the darkness, in the bottom of a pit you carved out without noticing. All the decisions you make seem to be wrong, or they don’t seem to be getting you where you want to be.

All you can do is keep going. Believe in the fact that this is just one dark spot, and if you keep moving forward – keep swimming – you’ll find your way out. Things will get better. You can’t control what happens in the world around you, but you can control your own actions: if you don’t give up, don’t surrender, keep moving forward, of course you’ll get where you need to be, right?

Or at the very least, you’ll no longer be where you were.

Whether it means you’re thigh-stuck in revision-gook, in a low-spot personally, or just feeling a bit stuck in a rut, keep moving forward. You’ll get there.

What do you think? Or have I just been watching WAY too many kids movies? 😉

Thanks for reading. Have a great week. 🙂

When Is It My Turn: Author Envy

BC2010 Holiday Aug4_10 015I know some wonderful writers who are unpublished. There are books I’ve read which I’m not sure should have been published. But all of this adds up to about the same thing: author envy.

It’s far too easy to start comparing yourself and your writing to others. How do you stand up against your heroes? Why would “something like this” [insert whatever lousy book you read] get published and my work continues to be rejected?

From there, it can be a slippery slope to actually degenerating someone else’s work, perhaps in an effort to validate your own. Perhaps your entire attitude becomes negative – either on other people, or your own work, or both. This can destroy professional relationships – like critique groups – or prospects (the publishing world can be very small sometimes).

Envy of any kind is a sneaky, dangerous beast. It can eat you up if you aren’t careful.

We can call fall prey to envy. But we can also overcome it, outsmart it, and prevent it from taking over.

How?

  1. It lurks in the shadows of our mind. Like any criminal who lurks in the shadows, shine a flashlight on it. Acknowledge it. Realize what it is, and perhaps why it’s there. It can’t sneak up on you if you’re watching it.
  2. Try to decipher it. Why has it reared its head? Is it because you admire the work of another? Because you’re questioning the validity of your own? Because you’re frustrated by various outside factors you can’t control?
  3. Talk about the envy with close and trusted friends. If the feeling is directed towards one of those people, acknowledge and discuss, while trying to avoid hurt feelings.
  4. Accept it. Feeling guilty about it won’t help. Understanding why you’re feeling it might.
  5. Acknowledge the positive attributes that lead to this envy and decide what you can learn from it. Is there something that other author does you could / should do? Can you make better opportunities? What can you learn from something negative, to turn it into something positive?
  6. Move on. Kick that sneaky bugger to the curb, and don’t let it pull you down. Instead, work on goals and actions that deal with the underlying cause of the envy, instead of giving in to weakness (in attacks on the target of that envy, blaming yourself, etc).

Have you ever experienced author envy? How did you deal with it? What’s your advice? Do share. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Sink or Shine: If life is a grindstone, can it obliterate you?

“Life is a grindstone. Whether it grinds us down or polishes us up depends on us.” – T.L. Holdcroft.

 

Let’s face it: sometimes life is hard. Choosing to take action, to take risks, to take the road less traveled … well, you have to know the path will not always be easy. Even if you don’t

Flowers in my garden - a good place to run away to.
Flowers in my garden – a good place to run away to.

take risks, life always has its ups and downs.

The journey towards publication and self-defined success is no different. For some – especially when seen from the outside – the path will seem easier, more direct. For others, ridiculously hard. For ourselves? I think we like to dream our path will somehow be made easier, but know it probably won’t be. And maybe it shouldn’t be – or maybe that’s just my parents’ mentality talking.

Sometimes, you will hate your job – no matter what you do for a living. Your boss is cruel and sadistic. Someone else got the promotion. Your friends seem to have easy cash-flow while you scrimp and save.

But here’s the thing: it’s your choice. All of it.

Or at least, how you choose to react to it.

There are some people who we think have it all. They have been given every opportunity. Perhaps luck and circumstance dealt them a great hand. And then these same people gripe and whine, are never satisfied – and never will be. They may not even realize their good fortune because things have always been so good, they take that for granted, too. Until they choose to change their outlook, things will never be better for them, as life is in the eye of the beholder, and quality thereof entirely subjective.

Life can indeed be a grindstone. But you only get ground down if you let it. If you’re not made of sterner stuff. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, try to overcome weakness, and try to move forward in a positive (or at least useful) manner.

Reality says that sometimes things will be difficult. Beginnings, Middles, and Endings – as in plot – are inevitable. But how we deal with them makes all the difference.  The greater pressure we’re subjected to, the greater the opportunity for strength.  We can be like gemstones, made stronger because of what we’ve survived. We WILL shine because of our perseverance, our strength, our outlook.

Or, we can wilt and say we’re soapstone. Let the grinding stone obliterate us.

Which would you rather be?

Thanks for reading – stick with those goals! Have a great week.

7 Reasons for Hope to Persevere

It’s scarcely 1/6 of the way through the year (17%), and I begin to wonder if I can achieve what I set out to do, if this will be another year when I try hard, but nothing seems to come of it. More rejections, and I fear contest entries were more like throwing away money. In short, self-doubt and depression come calling.

What about you? Have you fallen off the goal-wagon? Are you, like me,  frustrated with your progress in life and career?BC2010 Holiday Aug4_10 055

Don’t be.

  1. There are 10 more months left to reach those goals – that’s 83% of the year.
  2. It’s winter. Everything sucks in winter – that’s not your fault, so don’t let it suck you in.
  3. Spring is right around the corner. No, really. Those snow drifts will melt away just like the resistance you’re feeling right now; bright green buds will sprout, along with new opportunity and hope you didn’t think existed.
  4. Things have to be crappy sometimes so we appreciate when wonderful things happen. That means wonderful things are right around the corner.
  5. Your life is full of blessings and wonderful treasures – even if your immediate goal is still out of reach. Take the opportunity to open your eyes and appreciate what you have, what life is RIGHT NOW, instead of what you want it to be.
  6. Change is hard. Growth can be accompanied by growing pains. Just wait until you see what comes next.
  7. This gully is just part of the road you’re on. You are NOT the road. The vista will look brighter from the top of that next hill.

How do you find and maintain hope?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.