Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Writer's Blues

So I spoke too soon about the rain in L.A. ending.  It's back with a vengeance today, and my car tire still isn't fixed either because that damn pothole also bent the rim.  The potholes in my city, they are epic.  

I'm not sure if the weather today is influencing or mirroring my mood--which came first, the rain or the blues?  I'm at the nadir of what I think of as the writer's cycle:  frenetic writing, followed by a high that this is possibly THE BEST THING EVER WRITTEN, which you then chase with a bout of revisions and re-reading, and that leads to the conclusion that I AM A TOTAL FAILURE AND WILL NEVER PUBLISH ANYTHING AND EVERYONE IS GOING TO LAUGH AT ME.

We're all familiar with this.

We write because we have these wild imaginations that dream up all sorts of people and places and situations.  We're happiest when zoned out, listening to a conversation in our heads between characters we've invented, or envisioning the dynamics of a desperate struggle, a dramatic fight, a passionate kiss.  And sometimes we let our beloved imaginations take us on a fantasy trip towards an end goal:  the call from an agent who loves your book, the reaction you'll have when you hear it's going to be published.  It's only a daydream for now, but it could happen some day, and that goads you on.  

As I learn more about publishing as a business, my imagination stretches in the other direction as well:  the innumerable, impersonal rejections that no doubt await me.  I can see an agent sitting behind her desk, looking at my query, my partial, and shaking her head, thinking This is too trite, too derivative, this will never sell, this is an unholy mess.  Let your mind wander too far down that road, and it will sap your spirit. Thoughts of quitting entirely pass through your head.

But you can't.  You love to write, you have to write. Give yourself a mental slap in the face, cancel the pity party, rev up your determination.  Maybe you need to step away from the laptop for a little while.  Go for a run.  Visit friends.  Read a book.  Anything to take your mind off the terror of failure and gain some perspective.  Let your writer muscles relax for a little bit.

And when you're ready, get back to work.  You're the Little Train That Could, and you're going to make it.

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