WRITING: Dedication

It’s pretty obvious that I’m in a down cycle on my own writing lately, and while I know I won’t give it up entirely, it’s at the point in the cycle where it can’t be given the priority any more.

There is a pattern I’m seeing, however, and the impetus that conspires with circumstance to drive this tossing away of needs. 

I’ve realized that I’m just getting back responses (rejections) on submissions sent out in November–never something to keep the mood up.  Two other things going on that have pushed me back from the line:  The Crapometer Miss Snark ran over the holidays on 700 hooks, and the current American Idol auditions.

It’s amazing to me, regardless of some of the contrived performances on Idol, that there are folks out there who truly believe they can write/sing, and who sadly, truly can’t. 

Confidence clearly isn’ enough.  It’s great in conjunction with  talent and skill, but without the performance quality, it’s sadly pathetic. 

All these things reminded me that I too can be the fool.

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8 Responses to WRITING: Dedication

  1. Creechman says:

    keep on truckin.

    My, that was inspiring.

  2. susan says:

    Well Mark, my state of being is low enough right now to let your comment produce a new burst of wild enthusiasm. At the very least, I’m going to hit the next tier of lit journals on submissions with this one story that I do still hold some belief as being “not bad.”

  3. I think we all have down times.

    There’s a book I read a while back called Making Pearls, by Jeanne Carbonetti, who paints in watercolor. She writes about seven stages of the creative process: Waiting, Opening, Closing, Holding, Releasing, Emptying, and Sitting. I’m not sure I agree with all she says, but I know there are times when we just have to take breaks and wait for something to build inside us, whether it’s inspiration or a dose of motivation. I’ve also noticed some of my best work (in my opinion) has come with a long buildup period, when I just let things develop in my mind, without doing any actual writing.

    Writing is also a thankless endeavor, in which we make slow progress that has little promise of reward. I guess my point is, give yourself a break, and let it come as it comes. And who knows, you may happen across something you love doing even more. The joy should be in the process, not the outcome. The process, whatever you do, is where you live everyday. Outcomes only last a few minutes anyway.

  4. Josh says:

    Syd Field helps me infinitely when I get bummed on my lack of writing success:

    “Don’t let not selling your [work] alter your internal state of mind, your feelings about yourself. Don’t let it interfere with the experience of writing. In the long run, you fulfiled your hopes and dreams, fulfilled your goal. Writing brings its own rewards. Enjoy them.”

    In the the book this quote came from, Field establishes very quickly that the only important goal of a writer should be to complete a written story, and that it doesn’t need to be read by the world to be successful in its purpose. Because the truth is barely a quarter of unpublished writers even finish what they start.

    Obviouslly we all want to have the published life, and that is a worthy goal to continue pursuing. But at the same time we writers also need to understand that we have not failed if we never see an official by-line. Somewhere along the line, someone has certainly read our work and been affected by it. And that makes us successful.

    Once I realized this for myself (going on my sixth year now of my screenplay not being read by an agent), I found that I had a higher tolerance for the rejection letters. I still have my bummed-out days (had earlier this week in fact), but after reading Syd Field’s Screenplay I no longer will ever consider myself a failure.

    Closing with a thought from Jean Renoir: “True art is in the doing of it.”

  5. susan says:

    Barbara, I know you’ve been through the same ups and downs, and each time we try a new way to get back that bit of confidence that slips enough to halt our writing. I’m not going to give up totally, but I’m not forcing anything either by setting any more limits and deadlines. The outcome, to me, is part of the process. It’s just as important and satisfying; the only thing to consider is what we expect that outcome to be. If living on the hard drive is okay, than that’s satisfying too.

    But Josh, you waylay your own argument when you say “Somewhere along the line, someone has certainly read our work and been affected by it. And that makes us successful.”

    Though it’s not success or failure I’m really thinking of here, I don’t think. And it goes even a bit beyond the sharing–after all, we can force some folks to read our work, but by and large, nobody really cares; even other writers as I’ve found.

    It’s more the validation that someone who should know about these things believes that what we’ve written is worth reading by others. We can have the greatest confidence in the world, but if it’s only our own opinion, what is that worth?

    What struck me in particular on American Idol was a woman who couldn’t sing for beans, knew she couldn’t sing, yet insisted that she could easily win as the first American Idol who couldn’t sing. She felt that they could teach her to sing, so that made her qualified to enter the contest.

    In this age of computers, everyone who wouldn’t bother to put in the effort despite their bit of interest in writing, is doing so. The slush pile is now a mountain, and yet it’s filled with so much more bad stuff than good.

    I did, however, spurred on a bit by your encouragement, send out some more submissions today.

    And that is what writers do for each other. Thank you, for that little push I needed to step back from the edge.

  6. Josh says:

    Being 27 I understand that it may appear patronizing for me to say “Don’t worry about it” to more seasoned writers looking for their first published credit.

    That aside, validation of one’s writing talent via The Publishing Insdutry is a tough order for anyone to give themselves. And there’s also no doubt that a lot of writers depress themselves when they don’t get the validation they seek.

    I decided for myself that I wouldn’t let its absence from my name determine how I ultimately view my success–even when those days come that I crave it terribly.

    I am glad you sent out some more submissions. For sure, you can’t get validation if you keep your stories locked away.

  7. susan says:

    Josh, age has some advantages: the experience of life, even unwittingly absorbed is definitely useful as a storehouse of information from which to draw. But times invested in writing comes not just with age, but is dependent upon when one starts taking it seriously. At 27, you’ve got a distinct advantage over many whose only real experience may be academic writing and literature studies. But you’ve also got a lot of experience in penetrating the market and understanding how it works. That’s a biggie, and I do well to listen to your take on it.

  8. Josh says:

    And something I do well is to watch how you and Jim (Murphy, I believe) write your short stories (or at least I did when you two submitted stuff to Narratives). I could write short fiction in high school, but since then it seems I can’t comprehend the concept.

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