In my daily crawl of web sites, I ran across a good post by Rachelle Gardner on Big Dreams vs. Realistic Expectations. I think it dovetails nicely with another post I had bookmarked a little bit ago by Jim C. Hines called When the Writing Isn’t Fun. And they both kind of coincide with a general malaise I’ve been feeling the last week or so.
(Now that I’ve used my big pretentious vocabulary word for the day, perhaps I can get back to writing a blog post.)
Let’s start with Rachelle’s post. A few good quotes:
“Dream BIG, and pursue your dreams persistently… and be diligent in guarding yourself against anger, resentment, despair and blame when things aren’t going your way.”
“Don’t let the difficulty of the path….turn you into a bitter person.”
I think she makes a very important point here. It’s easy to get upset when things don’t happen the way you want them to. Some people become depressed, some become angry, some convince themselves that it’s all stupid and not what they wanted anyway.
And when you move into this negative space it shows. It’s natural, I think, to want to feel down about things. It’s natural to be frustrated or angry at times. But, in order to succeed, you have to swallow that anger and frustration. (Or banish it if you can – that’s probably healthier than internalizing it.)
What you can’t do is project it out into the world. We’ve all worked with that person who hates their job. Who shows up every day and instead of trying to make things work complains about how everything is terrible and points out all the problems instead of finding solutions.
Unfortunately, I’ve been that person once or twice. And when you find yourself in that negative head space it colors the world around you. You see the negative in every situation instead of seeing the positive. Your reactions are out of proportion to actual events which creates a negative spiral that’s hard to stop once started.
Most things we deal with in life are not one-dimensional. Life is rarely all good or all bad. But when you let yourself exist in that negative space, you can only see the negatives. And you need to be able to see the positives to win. You need to be able to find that little piece of positive feedback in the sea of negativity so you can use it to move one step forward instead of quitting or bogging down in place.
That brings us to Jim’s post and a few good quotes from him:
“But the thing is, whether it’s writing or karate, the path isn’t a smooth, steady climb. Sometimes you stumble. Sometimes you get stuck. There will come a time where if you want to get better, you’re going to have to fall down.”
“Sometimes it’s not worth it. Either the climb is too hard, or you just don’t have the energy. That’s okay. Nobody can do everything, and you’ll destroy yourself if you try.”
“Looking over the past 17 years, this journey has been one of the hardest, bumpiest things I’ve ever done. It has, at times, been incredibly depressing and frustrating. But it’s also been one of the most rewarding journeys, and while it may not always be fun, and it is at times a lot of work, it’s work I choose to
Most things in life aren’t easy, but it seems to me that the writer’s journey is particularly challenging. And I definitely see people who are defeated or angry on the writing forums.
The most recent one I saw was someone frustrated by the idea that some agencies decide on queries as a team instead of individually. It was clear that this person has reached the stage of querying where they’re just frustrated by the process. So, they swore off querying any larger agencies to avoid the possibility that their query would be subject to decision by committee.
The problem with reacting out of anger or frustration is that you deprive yourself of opportunity. Perhaps this person’s dream agent, the person who will really connect with their work, works at a large agency. This person has now closed that door permanently.
You have to remain open to possibility. You have to stay positive. Easier said than done, I know. And, really, this applies to all of life. To any work situation. To friendship. To dating. (You could be a great person, but show up for a date with a jaded point of view and it’s going to be a short night.)
Give yourself permission to go somewhere private and scream and complain and hate life for a moment. But then take a deep breath and get back in there with a smile on your face and a positive attitude. Perseverance and a positive attitude will pay off.