The day has come when I felt like giving up on my writing. When I thought, will my writing ever, ever, be good enough to be accepted by a traditional publisher? What’s the point of the hard work I'm putting in?
I felt like a hollow tree. Burnt out. Nothing left. I think that I may have a case of the S.A.D’s. (Seasonal Affective Disorder). The weather is affecting my mood. It’s grey and gloomy and freezing cold. (To top it off, my body is complaining and my legs don’t want to work properly. I feel like I'm trying to move blocks of concrete with each step. I’m sore and achy. Jolly Fibromyalgia!)
The Little Voice
Ummm. When did this mopey feeling start? Last week it just started creeping up on me. A little voice whispering softly in my ear, “You have worked and worked and you have nothing to show. Not even a nibble.”
To that voice I said, “Well the publisher that assessed two of my stories at the Meet the Publishers Conference likes my writing. She says it’s lovely. My stories were not suitable for their imprint. (She didn’t say that to me. I just assumed so.) And she asked for two of my other manuscripts to look at. And all the kids at the school liked all my stories. They are the ones that count.”
Then the little voice says, “So what! They are not the ones publishing it. So they don’t matter.”
To The Voice I agreed…briefly. Until I reminded myself of the reason why I write. It is for the kids. Check out why I write here.
Last week I celebrated my 42nd birthday. My daughter gave me three picture books (pictured above). One funny, one scary, and one where the stories and illustrations made me all teary, they were so beautiful.
Then the doubt started to set in. The little voice was back. “See. Look at these stories. You’ll never write like that.” I agreed. It’s not my style, though I would love to evoke some emotion with my stories.
So I didn’t bother working on my novel, nor my blog. I felt like I just wanted to fade out of existence. In six months time, no one would remember me. Out loud, I used my birthday week as an excuse to take the week off. Ahhh! I felt like I was getting sucked into the “Vortex of Doom.”
I had decided this year to enter some of my stories into big competitions that offered feedback , even if you didn’t place. I did this so that I can improve my storytelling and make my stories as good as they can be. On Monday morning I got my results back for one of my stories from one of the competitions that I had entered. 68/100! I saw mostly 3’s. Average. The Voice was back. “See! You’ll never stand up out of the slush pile. You’ll never be good enough.”
But, as I write this, I have decided to fight back. I need to focus on every tiny scrap of positive feedback and cultivate an attitude of gratitude. I went back to the feedback sheet and counted up my scores. The scoring was as follows: 1. Needs work; 2; 3. Average; 4; 5. Above average. I got: nine 3’s, nine 4’s and one 5. Looking at it like that, I felt a lot better. And, they told me what I needed to work on.
I realised I should not focus so much on the negative. Don’t get me wrong. Even the negative feedback can be helpful. It can help show where I need to improve. So this is what I am now reminding myself of.
My writing is getting better and better all the time. I have written a number of stories. Some good. Some not so good. But each one helps me get to the next stage in my writing. No writing is wasted, not even writing this blog post.
Here is some feedback that I received from competitions and publishers that I need to keep in mind:
Giving myself space and focusing on the good stuff
I’ve given myself some space just to be. I read some great books and enjoyed my birthday week. I hung out with family and friends. I am choosing to focus on the good stuff. And getting stuck back into what I love doing - writing fun, quirky kids tales, and blogging. I also re-started my exercise program which I cut out about three weeks ago. I used all sorts of excuses. It's too cold. My muscles and tendons will probably tear again. (Don't laugh. It happens semi-regularly, especially in the cold.) Isn't it curious how I started feeling lousy shortly after I stopped exercising?
Tips for moving forward:
An interesting fact
An interesting fact that happens with some burnt out trees – some continue to grow and shoot out new leaves. And that’s what I’m going to do. Shoot out something new. A new story. A new idea. A new blog post. Hmmm. I may even contemplate moving to a warmer, sunnier climate. In the meantime, I will look forward to sunnier, warmer weather that will be coming in the next few weeks. Yay! Bring it on!
Have a good day.
Kirsten over at She’s Novel, has written a great blog post, 'Writing when depressed.' She describes her battle with depression, and what she does to move through to the other side of her lows.
I found out that, in the competition that I mentioned, I was among the highest scoring. It just goes to show, it is all about perception. Often, the hardest time is just before a break through.
This has reminded me of an analogy that I once heard. Life goals can be bit like pumping the old water pumps. You would pump and pump and pump. And just as you think that it getting too hard, and you couldn't possibly pump any more - the water would come gushing out.
Never give up!
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