Keep At It (The Yearly Smack on the Head)

This past year has been a long, slow stall for me. I like to brush off the rejections—I tell myself I’m brushing them off—but I wonder if instead I’m hanging on so I can mull over them later when no one’s looking. Truth is, for a year I’ve written things of no real consequence. Ghostwriting is a good way to hide. I’ve been petrified of failing again, so I haven’t given it a real go. I look at writers who work hard every day (look at Helen, on her 10th draft, and I’m meandering and thinking of giving it all up on, what is it really?, a 4th?!) and then I look at myself, and I know the answer: I must work harder. I must keep trying.

Even Miss Snark’s message today is one I could hear a little more of. Someone asks: “At what point does one simply give up?” And Miss Snark, not one for random acts of kindness, says:

Never.

It’s true, it’s about the writing, not the publishing fantasy. I miss those innocent times when I didn’t know up from down when it came to publishing fantasies. There was a time when I had no clue what a literary agent was, so it didn’t occur to me to want one.

Last year I thought of giving up—yes, I did consider it for some extended moments; yes, I was feeling sorry for myself. I’m thinking of this now because at the end of this week it’s my birthday. My birthday last year brought with it a very disappointing rejection, the start of a descent that peaked that spring. By summer, I had no idea what to do with myself. I guess I still don’t. I hope to figure it out this year. I’d rather look back on a year of honest effort than one of self-pity and immobility. Yikes. Someone please help me back up!

And I realize the “someone”—clearly—must be myself. And so begins the head-smacking…

6 thoughts on “Keep At It (The Yearly Smack on the Head)

  1. That other smack you just heard: that’s me.

    You gotta love the blunt answers like “Never,” which can be even blunter than self-smacks sometimes. But writing this out is a great wake-up call, too, for yourself and for your readers who are writers.

    It’s true, it’s about the writing, not the publishing fantasy. I miss those innocent times when I didn’t know up from down when it came to publishing fantasies. There was a time when I had no clue what a literary agent was, so it didn’t occur to me to want one.

    Oh, ditto to the max.

    And happy bday in advance!

  2. Oh, thank you, Charlotte! That means so much.
    *
    W, I hope we don’t have to smack ourselves for too much longer, really. Thanks for the bday wishes!

  3. Don’t forget, as well, Nova, that my first (and second and third) draft was so despairingly pants, I didn’t really have much choice than to do ten of them. I’m hoping with my next book I’ll have learnt enough from this process not to get into double figures with the redrafts. On the other hand, I’m glad I didn’t give up after the third draft when my manuscript came back unread from a publisher complete with a shoe print on the back.

    You can do it. Just keep going. I can’t believe I’m agreeing with Miss Snark, but her post sums up how I feel about writing.

    Happy Birthday for later in the week (tomorrow?!) I’d just remembered our birthdays were both in February!

  4. I really have great faith that people like you, who are so talented and just meant for words, will get where you want to be and all this wondering and head-smacking will pay off, one way or the other. And Happy Early Birthday, I hope it’s a good one. 🙂

  5. Helen, I admire your tenacity and drive so much. A shoe print on the back? My god. Thank you for your vote of confidence. Seeing how you move through it helps to keep me going, I admit. And happy birthday to you, too! Mine’s tomorrow and I recall yours is around then, as well?
    *
    Thank you so much, Courtney. I happen to feel the same about you. The way you’re quickly working on your novel revision now is such an inspiration!

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