DIY Tiara, or Just a Confidence Boost?

It can be easy as a writer, especially an unpublished writer, to get down, get discouraged, and generally Eeyore like. Yesterday, I wondered if wearing a tiara while preparing breakfast and getting things packed for the day, improved my outlook. I was dressed as a princess (for preschool story time, I swear!), but did I feel all that entitled or more pleased?

Then later on, I realized what it was I really needed. I needed to feel like I wasn’t completely inept and clueless. 🙂

So here’s the deal: we spend a lot of time alone, with our writing, typing away at a keyboard. And when we send out work out into the world (as we must if we want anyone else to ever see it), it’s inevitable we’re going to get rejections. Some will hurt a lot, others will be relatively kind. And yes, we know that not everyone will like our work, that the business is subjective. We have to. Still, there’s something dauntingly depressing as all those rejections start to add up. We can start to mistake the fact that our work just isn’t ready, or that it wasn’t the right match for that particular publisher / agent / reader with the notion that either we or our writing are hopeless, worthless, or crap.

Sometimes, all we need is just a little affirmation that we’re not clueless, and that maybe, as we crawl blindly along a path we understand but can’t see, we ARE traveling the right path, we are doing the right things, making the right decisions. And when the path seems especially dark or hopeless, we need to find small affirmations for ourselves that suddenly seem to light everything up.

For me, it was realizing not only do I know what a career trajectory is, I actually have one! 😉

Sometimes, it’s an encouraging note added by an agent or an editor. Or the words of your critique partners or beta readers who see something worthy in your writing, especially on the days you can’t. It can be the lightening rod when you figure out that story you love and see it all plotted and laid out in your mind. And sometimes, it’s just going out and having a bit of fun, because seriously, without fun, life kind of sucks. 😉

Take heart, move forward, and if you need to, wear that plastic tiara proudly if that’s what makes you feel better. Because you will get to where you want to go, you will achieve your goals if you keep pushing, keep improving, and never, EVER give up. 🙂

Your turn: what helps pulls you back from the darkness and gives you that boost and cheer?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week. And Happy Halloween out there, whether you wear tiaras, fangs, or anything in between. 🙂

Getting Off the Writers’ Emotional Rollercoaster

Have you bought a lottery ticket lately?

As I mentioned before, I wanted to do a series of blogs related to Laraine Herring’s wonderful The Writing Warrior. Today, I want to think about the following quote:

“If you understand that suffering arises when we want our current experience to be something other than what it is, you’ll see how much we, and not events, bring about our suffering.”

(from: L. Herring, The Writing Warrior, p60)

Let’s go back to my first question: have you bought a lottery ticket lately? Why? What do you think it will bring you? How will it change your life? Will you finally be able to pay off those bills, you won’t have to scrimp and save so much, money won’t be a worry anymore, you’ll be able to buy some of the things you could only dream about before, you’ll help others, you’ll … And on it goes.

The problem is, even if you win, your life will not be perfect. Oh, I’m not saying winning would be terrible (there are others who may suggest that), but what I am saying is that some problems may disappear, but others will replace them, because what we worry about, the problems in our lives and how we suffer are rarely directly caused by exterior causes. Our experience of our lives is what we make it.

The same is true in our writing. While so many of us dream about “The Call,” and how suddenly our lives will be wonderful – even if we accept that there will still be rejection, that one great deal doesn’t make a career, that sometimes things fall off track. We all, myself included, still think that it will at least be better than where we are now. But, like that winning lottery ticket, some problems may be solved, but other new ones will appear, many of which will be of our own making.

By the same token, if our satisfaction and experience is largely internal, we can make our lives better all by ourselves. For writing, we can know that we are learning, writing, and becoming the best writers we can be. We are moving towards goals of things like publication, but they aren’t the be-all, end-all of our existence: the writing matters, not just the publication. Judging our progress in the path our writing careers take is less about comparing ourselves to other writers or outward markers like securing an agent, gaining a publishing contract, making a million dollars, etc, and more about becoming better at what we do all the time, and loving what we do.

Again, like the lottery ticket, I’m not suggesting you don’t buy one. By all means, you should be getting out there and submitting, querying, working towards goals of publication if that’s what you want: it’s what I’m doing. I likewise don’t think your dreams and goals are likely to materialize into reality without hard work. But in the meantime, in the hard times when you’ve received rejection after rejection, when it seems like no one likes your writing, when you wonder if you’re just pretending to be a writer, when you’re thinking of giving it all up and all of the other negative internal conversations we have with ourselves, you can know none of it is necessary. You can be satisfied with writing for writing’s sake. You can be happy that you’re doing the best you can, and striving to do better. And while you still want to go further, it will happen, it will come someday, but when or how is less relevant that controlling what you can, like the consistency and quality of your writing.

So, have you bought a lottery ticket lately? Entered a major writing contest? Great. I wish you all the luck, and hope it turns out how you want. But even if it doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world, and you ca still be satisfied and happy with your life and your writing.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

A bit of encouragement we all need some days …

Hey everyone. I know, I’ve been terrible at keeping up with this blog (my apologies). I’ll try to do better (and hope you forgive me when I forget to keep posting again. Sigh.

Anyway, today I had something I thought you might be interested in, and although it’s no specifically writing related, per say, it’s certainly still very relevant to the publishing process, and indeed all of life. It’s my favorite poem which I may have perma-borrowed from my mom when I moved out, but which ever since I first found it in my early teens, has meant a great deal to me.

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,

When the funds are low, and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit —

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a person turns about

When they might have won had they stuck it out.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow —

You may succeed with another blow.

Often the struggler has given up

When he might have captured the victor’s cup;

And he learned too late when the night came down,

How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out —

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit, —

It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

(My copy on the base says: Paula, 1978)

Well, there it is, my favorite poem. I’m not the only one (check out this link to website dedicated to it and providing more information if you’re interested.) I know I’ve sometimes had to stand before it and trust in the words, and it’s gotten me through. May this provide a little pick-me-up for all of you out there today, too.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week.