Thursday, March 31, 2011

Writing and Keeping your Joie de Vivre

Let's face it. Writing is a very, very emotional adventure. It's a journey of self-discovery, and for some, that journey seems to be inundated with foes. You know, foes named Self-Doubt, Fear, Incompetence, Denial--all wearing gauntlets instead of boxing gloves.  And sometimes we curse the day we discovered our love of writing. Life would be so much easier if we weren't addicted to creating stories. We wouldn't forsake so much time with the living to spend time with the imaginary. We wouldn't constantly be distracted, dreaming of far-off lands, while the dishes from last week have piled in the sink. And we wouldn't have to keep explaining all of that to our friends and family who think we've crawled into a hole somewhere and died. But we can't stop. We keep creating. We keep writing. We keep the hope that someone, somewhere will love our worlds as much as we do. So that we can share it. And one of the hardest aspects of that process is being okay with the fact that someone, somewhere might not.

I've been thinking on this a lot lately, having started the querying process. I've barely begun the dreaded fight (with some luck, mind you!), but it has opened my eyes. Wide. When you get those partial requests you squeal like a 5 year old while tears of joy well in your eyes. You stand on a cloud for a few days. You finally feel validated. Despite those exciting moments, rejection is still tough to bear. You already know that you're going to get it. Come on, not everyone is going to like your story. You don't like everything that's out there either. But still. It's hard.

And then there's the waiting aspect. You can go insane thinking about sending your precious baby into the world for the first time. And then when it goes out, you don't hear a word from it. For weeks--months! So, you try to keep your mind preoccupied. You tell yourself that the reason you check your email every five seconds is because you like to change Gmail themes. You tell yourself that the reason you're unusually fidgety and anxious is because they're making coffee stronger these days. And when someone asks you why you're staring absently at your computer, you blink and say "Oh...I was just gonna change my Gmail themes."

And now what? Should you work on the next one in your series? Should you start a whole new story? But you don't want to part with those characters yet! Or maybe you should you re-write the one you're submitting. You're sure you missed a plural possessive apostrophe somewhere. Why aren't you having any luck with blogging contests? You must be a failure!

This is where I'm learning the vitality of going back to the beginning. Why you started in the first place. For me, it's because I have to. Because I have an insatiable need to create. Because I love the characters in my head. Because I love watching the beginnings of a story unfold into an intricate plot, seemingly of their own accord. And just because it may take years to find representation, or none at all, that does not mean I can't write. It doesn't mean I'm not a writer. It doesn't mean my story has no value. It doesn't mean I should quit now and try something else. That's one of the beautiful things about this artistic endeavor. I don't need thousands of dollars worth of equipment. I don't need a stage and ampitheather. I don't need a team to create. It's just me, and whatever is floating around in that head of mine. And learning to accept that, I feel, is one of the hardest and most important aspects of being a writer. In order to keep that joie de vivre, you absolutely must. Remember why you're doing it. And you'll be able to handle the rest.


  1. ...also, you should keep writing because I and each of your beta-group readers have absolutely LOVED your story and cannot wait for book get crackin' Keep it up!

  2. Yeah, Ben, you tell her!!! PS great post - lots of things I needed to hear!

  3. What a wonderful pep talk. Thanks!

  4. Oh yes! Exactly what we all need to hear. You and I are on the same page today.

  5. And you all have just encouraged me, knowing you're sharing in the journey! Thank YOU!

    PS Christine (ie Miss Awesome Attitude), you are namely responsible for this :)

  6. If you ever need a German recipe, let me know! My Oma left a few good ones!

  7. Love this post, Barbara. Your writing is awesome so you'll get there. I know you will :)

  8. Aww thanks, Sari! And if I do, it's because of people like yourself that have helped! :)


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