In between walking the new puppy about fifteen times a day and comforting her over the thunderstorm we had tonight, I’ve been trolling writer’s forums again. And for some reason I’m really noticing the people who have flipped over from “this is hard to do but I’ll get there eventually” to “this sucks and I keep going but I don’t know why I bother, everyone sucks and is rude and yada yada yada.”
Granted, this blog has probably moved from 100% positive to slightly jaded, but I hope I never get to the point where I see the whole process as a miserable waste and start saying nasty things about people trying to do their jobs as best they can.
So, how do you know when you’re in that danger zone? (And this probably applies to work or relationships as much as it does to writing…)
-You ask “why bother?”
-You find yourself spending more time complaining about your lack of progress than working on moving forward
-You find yourself having conversations on public forums with just yourself because no one wants to engage with your negativity
-Others start to agree with you that you’ll never succeed, the system is rigged, etc.
-You surround yourself with people who all have the same negative view as you (e.g., “it’s who you know not what you do”, “why bother trying, you won’t be rewarded”)
How do you snap out of it when you’ve reached that point?
That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?
Well, you can keep going with the same level of energy and dedication that you started with and bury those negative thoughts somewhere deep inside so no one knows about them.
(Because people really do react to your level of positivity/negativity and that shows in everything. If you’re on an internet forum complaining about the length of time it takes to get a response from a market, that’ll probably show in your cover letter, too. Or if you think what your boss assigns you to do is just make work that has no value, that’ll show in the level of effort you put into it.)
So, that’s the first option. Suck it up and power through.
The second one is to step away for a bit to make sure this is something that’s really worth it to you and to gain perspective.
(Problem with that is that sometimes when you’re ready to step back into it, you’ve lost ground or lost your chance. That job is no longer open to you. That significant other has moved on. The market has changed and your writing is no longer as appealing as it once was.)
To me the worst option is to let that attitude fester and just continue on. Who wants to live in that kind of negative space for any length of time? It’s not healthy–mentally or physically.
Anyway. I like to think I’m still on the positive side of things.
I’m still busy having deep thoughts about what to do with my writing. (And chasing the puppy, of course.)
Preliminary feedback on the non-fiction book has been positive. So, yay! It’s a non-traditional length and I have no platform to sell myself to a publisher or agent, so it may very well be the work I use to test the waters of self-publishing.
That’s why I’m still pretty quiet these days–just thinking through how to handle these one-offs I’ve written and the short stories that are close to hitting the pro markets but not cracking them.
(All sorts of things to consider like branding and pricing and marketing and rights issues. Or not…I could just format the sucker, slap it up there, and pray to any god who cares to listen…I’m still deciding which approach to take.)