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:~: Friday, November 03, 2006 :~:

Having What It Takes, Part Deux -- The Attitude

I'm the first to admit to being a realist. Okay, a cynic. I'm no Pollyanna, living on the sunny side of the street.

That probably contributed to the wicked bout of clinical depression I battled last year. There were many contributors -- money issues, renovations from hell, a jam-packed teaching schedule, a couple of classes where I felt less than effective . . .

Several dozen rejections, being dumped by my agent . . .

I swear, some days it seemed like the end of the world every single day. I nosedived from being a realist to being a pessimist. My head was a scary place to be, and more than the writing suffered.

It's nearly a year later, and I'm still a realist. I still border on cynicism.

But I'm no longer an "Oh my God, the world is ending because I screwed up" person, for a lot of reasons. But the biggest is a really good friend who I see now really worked me over, adjusting my attitude, in the firmest, gentlest way possible.

She's unfailingly positive, even when life is at its yuckiest . . . and her life the last year has been far yuckier than mine. She is calm, she listens, she seeks solutions rather than focusing on the problems . . . and in many ways, she's the person I'm trying to be. We work together daily, which I've come to see as one of my greatest blessings.

Lately, we've embarked on a couple of missions together, one of which is establishing a more positive attitude among our high school students. We're on a bucket-filling challenge. The weird thing is, for a cynical realist like me, it's working. Not just with my kids . . . but with me. I'm looking at things even more positively than Mary has influenced me to lately. So even when major yucky stuff hits, as it has this week, I've been more equipped to handle it.

How does all this relate to writing? Because I know that when I return to writing and all the yucky stuff that the business sometimes entails, I'll have another tool in my box to help me deal with it. I'll have a better attitude, a better outlook.

How do you handle the yucky parts of the writing business? Who or what fills your bucket?


Blogger Joan Swan said...

I don't have an answer to that one. I've been on a steady decline as far as outlook and attitude for months now. The stuff that typically picked me up before isn't working now. The longer I go without a sale, the less likely I think I am to sell. I'm more than a little afraid I might be looking for a new agent soon, myself.

I could use some suggestions -- looking forward to what others have to say.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Amie Stuart said...

I"ve struggled with this for two years now. Joan I wish I had an answer for you. Don't give up though. I think soemtimes we need to pull back from the blogs, and online and submitting and everything and remember that we write because we love it. I think that's one of the hardest things to remember but that and striking a balance between writing something we love and somethign we think we can sell are important. Easy to say but not so easy to alwasy do. Gee I was helpful LOL

9:29 AM  
Blogger Linda Winfree said...

Joan, I certainly don't have the answer. I do agree with Amie, though -- sometimes, we get so wound up in the business end of things, we forget about why we started in the first place: the love of writing, of words, of stories.

Too often, I think we measure success in terms of tangible milestones -- getting a request, getting an agent, selling that first book. When it doesn't happen on the timeframe we expect, I know I for one fell into the trap of feeling desperate, not-good-enough, etc. I let myself fall into the trap of making the writing the center of my life, instead of a part of my life. I have only myself to blame for that, and I know that led to a lot of the issues I've dealt with in the last year or so. The distance I've taken from writing has been a lifesaver. But that worked for me -- it might not work for anyone else.

Gee, like Amie, I'm awful helpful, am I not?

10:15 AM  
Blogger Amie Stuart said...

that desperate feeling doesn't go away after you sell, Linda =(

I don't mean that in a bad way. I guess what I'm saying is that some of the stuff we feel is universal and as trite as it sounds we all really do have to walk our own path. I was thinking about that today when I ran across some commentary about Anne Stuarts honesty over at AAR. I think the point that some people missed was that we do what we love DESPITE the publishing industry not because of it.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

I promised myself back in the summer that if something didn't change by the end of the year, I'd need to step back from writing and focus on my beads for financial reasons.

I'd love to indulge in my writing, because that's what I love, but I can't do that forever if it doesn't go somewhere.

So, maybe it's facing that impending shift that's got me sliding backward.

Anyway, thanks for the encouraging words!!

6:35 PM  
Blogger wavybrains said...

Eli and others in my RWA chapter fill my bucket up. Their positive attitudes and determination make all the difference. I have struggled mightily with inner demons in the last year. One thing that has helped is breaking the BIG goal into a lot of little ones--Making Pro Status, Getting a Rejection that actually offers some feedback, Getting a Contest final, etc etc. I am really trying very hard to focus on each step and not think too far down the line. Little gains fill the bucket, living in the future drains it dry.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Little gains fill the bucket, living in the future drains it dry.

I love this, Wavy. Think I might print it out and post it near my computer.

It's the little things that keep me going - having a cp say they love a chapter or concept, brainstorming with a friend, celebrating the highs and commiserating about the lows. For me, not being isolated is what really keeps me going. Writing can be so solitary. If I didn't have my writing network to bounce off of, I think I might have a different persepective about the whole thing.

3:04 PM  

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