Thursday, April 17, 2014

I AM A WRITER ~or~ How My "Quit" Turned into a "Break"

I QUIT!

Yep. That's what I screamed out loud in my house Monday morning to no one. I'd ingested a pot of coffee before nine AM after another night of too-little sleep. I'd slogged through my inbox, even though I'm on 'vacation' and I'm supposed to be packing for the big move, and I found a rejection. Another one.

I slumped back against the couch. It wasn't form, only two of them have been, but it was still the same result. I immediately texted my support crew. They said the things the people who love you say.

Not form? That's great. You're getting so close.
Non-form is practically a yes.
It only takes one.
They weren't right for you anyway.
Your writing rocks. You rock. I love you.

And nothing they said is wrong, or even a lie.

But I feel like I've been here forever. I'll built report with two amazing agents, connections with even more. Two of the non-forms even said, "You are a lovely person. I look forward to more of your work."

And every single one said this: DON'T GIVE UP.

And I know they meant it. My friends have time to fluff a pillow under my defeated head, but agents who aren't mine don't. So why then did I reach my breaking point?

When you were a kid did you ever put a rubber band around the tip of your finger, or maybe a clothespin on a dare or out of childhood stupidity? Your skin would go white as all the blood ran from the area screaming at you, "But I live there! That's not right!" Eventually you'd take off the torture implement and shake your entire body as the whoosh of blood filled the tip of your finger. A sensation somewhere between pain and 'oh my god, that was freaky and kinda neat' took over your body. The pain was usually great enough to put a kabash on the activity.

And then someone would dare you to do again?

And you did?

Yeah. That's kinda what being in the query trenches is like. But did you ever leave the rubber band on just a bit too long and the feeling took thirty seconds or so to come back? And you freaked? This was that moment.

I got another lovely rejection. It was so lovely, I wanted to bake them treats and thank them for being so kind. And that's what got me. They all say the same thing.

Great voice.
I like you.
I like your writing.
I love your concept.
BUT I JUST DIDN'T CONNECT.

That's the entire reason I write. Or choreograph and dance. Why I sing. Why I draw and create and work with kids and make food for anyone in my orbit - to connect.

My heart snapped in two. I'm doing everything right. I'm not looking for a shortcut, I work way too many hours a day, I've worn myself to a nub that doesn't feel like it can even fit in the sharpener to be honed for another go. But still, something is missing. And I'm not connecting.

NO connection? What's the point?

And the thing that pushed me to that point is - I don't know how to fix it. It's possible I just haven't found The One yet. It's possible that it's sitting in the inbox of The One right now and they haven't made their way to it yet. It's possible the next MS is the perfect fit. It's possible that the R&R I'm just about done with it the thing that will make this week seem ridiculous in hindsight. It's possible I used possible too many times in that paragraph.

But right now, it feels like everything. It feels like the only thing.

I read so many blogs about how you need a community to write, how you can't give up because those are the successful people, the ones who don't give up, blogs about perfect mommies who play with their kids all day and do everything right and then bust out a book, get an agent, get a deal, and they still manage to find time for a shower everyday.

How? I fail at at least one of those things every day. (Spoiler - usually the shower.)

I spend a lot of my time being happy, or at least appearing to be. I have depression and body dysmorphia. This is an awful combination while you're trying to lose weight and accomplish really big goals. And most days, I feel like I succeed at keeping it together.

But not everyday. I bet if you ask any of my Twitter buds, or even my close friends, they would describe me as upbeat, a hard worker, driven, a cheerleader, and always there for them. And I really want to be all those things. But I'm an artist and some days it feels like that girl is just one more thing I've created. I know she's not. She's real, because above everything else, I'm genuine. That's why you're getting this blog right now.

Sorry, that was all off topic. I digress. Anywho, I read all these blogs about how not giving up has led to the agent, the deal, the successful self-pub, but what I don't see much of is - how hard it is to stay the course. And you know what? It is SO hard.

Monday had it's share of real life things before I got to the screaming in my living room, singing Avril Lavigne at the top of my lungs, oh hey another rejection point. I'd already been to hell, I'm sorry, Wal-Mart, to purchase a new coffee pot to replace the one that had mysteriously died overnight. One kid had missed the bus and I got the second one on her bus with only two minutes to spare. All the anti-freeze had leaked out of my car and it was cold - in the South!- and the heater in the house had also gone out.

Needless to say, Monday was stellar.

So after the email read through, I hopped on Twitter. A little levity, a few articles, maybe a picture of a hot guy, and I'd be good to go.

Instead, more of my friends - my very talented friends and acquaintances - had great news. Book deals! Agents! Covers! 5star reviews! 

I went into cheerleader mode. And it was genuine. And it was real. I'm legit happy for all those people. Their success doesn't take anything from me. More books sold and successful, the more deals there will be. It's a good thing. But fifteen minutes later, tears poured down my cheeks and the hollow I'd been feeling since reading the last rejection was filled with the worst thing of all - self- doubt.

That will never be me.
I'll never be that good.
I should stick to other things.
They started after me.
What am I doing wrong?
Am I not talented enough?
I SHOULD JUST QUIT!

And so I did.

I put away my zip drives, I cleaned my desk, I put my notes and my calendar away, I wrote the appropriate emails and saved them to a folder. I was done.

Fast forward to Wednesday.  I woke up with a hole in my gut. I needed something, but I didn't know what. I ate breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, had coffee, worked out, cleaned house, smooth sailing with the kids that morning. I read for a bit. I watched TV. Nothing fixed it. It was the scratch in just the middle of your back that no amount of flexibility or contortion will allow you to reach. By noon, I was so jumpy I went outside and started cleaning my garage. CLEANING MY GARAGE, PEOPLE.

And then it hit me. I had something to say. I'd run back inside, write it down, and then get back to life. I opened up my computer, slid the zip drive into place, and pulled up my files. As my fingers hit the keys, my shoulders relaxed, the words flowed, and my mind cleared.

And I got it. Just like I need music or I have to dance, I have to write. I AM A WRITER.

I still don't know what it is that will push me to the place I want to be. If you know what it is, please tell me.  It might simply be my community and friends never letting go of my hand. It might be them shoving me into the phase. It might be the fact that I'm really, really stubborn and I'm willing to work to get better.

But most likely, I can't quit - BECAUSE I'M A WRITER.

So, I am taking a little break. I'll finish up my R&R, take another look at the MS's that aren't quite there, but mostly, I'll forgive myself for not having superpowers. I'll forgive myself for not reaching impossible self-imposed goals. I'll keep trying to smile on the days when I want to stay in a dark room and shut down. I'll keep telling my reflection she's beautiful no matter what, because pant size really doesn't have anything to do with how much I can offer to the world.

So there you have it. I'm not very good sharing the darker side of me because I like people to believe that cartoon birds braided my hair this morning. And they did, but they were still drunk from the night before and did a horrible job! I like to make people laugh, I like to give them hope, I like to spread my fairy dust and glitter all over the place. But some days are hard. And what if I share this and someone else had a hard day and their quit didn't turn into a break until they read this?

We're writers. We're artists. We're creators. We make magic and sometimes all those things really hurt to do and to be. But in the end, that's what, I'm sure, will make it worth it.

And then I'll be able to write that blog post about how I didn't give up. Because really, it only takes one.



Obligatory hot guy gif:


30 comments:

  1. *hugs you super tight* I believe in you Angi. :D

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  2. This writing thing is not for the faint of heart. Let's all lean on each other.

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  3. You know how much I love you, right? This post is brilliant and perfect like you and I needed to read it today.

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  4. You know how much I love you, right? This post is brilliant and perfect like you and I needed to read it today.

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  5. Never gets any easier. It helps to stand together, though. Writers supporting writers.

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  6. Love this post and it is so true. Thanks for the reminder :)

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  7. I really loved this post. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you, and that we'll read your success story one of these days. Best of luck!

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  8. Awesome post. And it's so true. Great thoughts here. :)

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  9. So many of us have the exact same thoughts. You made me tear up a bit, so I must be one of them. Have a good break. And then come back. :)

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  10. So well put, girl. I guess as writers we just don't want to talk about the hard times, but talking about them actually makes us stronger and helps us come together, to cope. You are amazing. I believe in you!! *HUGS* :)

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  11. I think reaching that point was the best thing that happened to me, as a writer. It made me realize that truly giving up just wasn't an option. I'd be miserable.

    Such a good post. <3

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  12. Thank you for sharing. Have felt the same way, but can't quit either. Thank you for reminding all of us that we're not alone.

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  13. I really needed this. Angi, you are amazing.

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  14. You will succeed.

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  15. Love you. And I didn't sanction a 'quit' from you, so you're going to keep writing things for me to read kthnx.

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    1. A few weeks ago I cried when a query arrived unopen marked "return to sender." My husband couldn't understand why I was crying. "It's not a rejection. See? It hasn't been opened." He said. I cried because of the amount of work that went into that query and getting the letter together. I know, it doesn't seem like it would be a big deal, but it was. My energy and level of hope had dropped to below empty. Your post was exactly what I needed to get going again...thank you!

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  16. Thank you so much everyone! I feel much better knowing I'm not alone. :)

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  17. Great honest post - remember it only needs one agent to connect and you will be doing the happy dance. I think all writers need an extra middle name starting with d - for determination.

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  18. Thank you for this! I'm having the same feelings this week and it's so hard. I haven't written in five days because of it, but just reading your post makes me want to go write!

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  19. Thank you for this! I'm having the same feelings this week and it's so hard. I haven't written in five days because of it, but just reading your post makes me want to go write!

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  20. Thank you for this! I'm having the same feelings this week and it's so hard. I haven't written in five days because of it, but just reading your post makes me want to go write!

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  21. Thank you for this! I'm having the same feelings this week and it's so hard. I haven't written in five days because of it, but just reading your post makes me want to go write!

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  22. Are you inside my head? Because it feels like you're inside my head. Hang in there as you plan to. You are doing everything right.

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  23. Wow. This is so true. I have quit too. My family doesn't believe me when I say it now. They know that no matter how awful the latest rejection is I won't quit. I can't. Writing is my life's blood. I get the "I love your writing but I didn't connect to your main character" line too. Maybe we could beta read & figure it out.

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  24. Wow, I cannot believe how COMPLETELY and ENTIRELY (<--synonyms used to drive the point ;)) I relate to this. I have quit a few times but it barely lasts a day or two before my fingers are itching to get back on my computer. Thank you for sharing your very honest feelings about this crazy, soul-sucking journey that I would take again and again because dammit! I love to write!

    Good luck in all your writerly endeavors (and life endeavors, too :D)

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  25. You really hit a nerve for me. I am full of self-doubt right now & I have not even queried yet. Brave post and revealing of what many writers feel no matter what point on the journey. We will celebrate when you get your deal! It's coming!

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  26. I absolutely get this. The "I love the characters! I love the voice! I love the story! But it's not for me."-type rejections were worse than any form letters. That's actually why I gave up on my first manuscript. I had myself convinced that I would always be the author who was ALMOST good enough, and never break through to the "good enough" stage. In my case, I ended up putting that manuscript away and writing something new. I still wonder what would have happened if I didn't give up on that first manuscript, but I'm glad I didn't give up on writing entirely.

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  27. Thank you for this! I'm having the same feelings this week and it's so hard. I haven't written in five days because of it, but just reading your post makes me want to go write!

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