Special thanks to Sarah and Stephanie for filling in with such fantastic posts while I was moving/getting my life in order. After taking January to settle in, I’m ready to be back on the blogging bandwagon.
Because this is my first post of the new year, I’m going to start off by tackling a subject that’s still a bit tough for me to talk about in hopes that I can start 2014 with a clean slate and open mind. But before I get into it, I’m going to tell you a story.
When I was in middle school, my friend talked me into joining the softball team. I was a little hesitant to do this at first because I was more comfortable running track and dancing at my dance studio. But all my friends were going to be on the team and not wanting to be left out, I convinced myself that it would be fun.
I wasn’t ever the best dancer and never came in first or even second in track, but I was NOT good at softball. During one of my first practices, I ended up getting hit in the face with the softball (and contrary to popular belief, those damn balls are NOT soft). From then on out I was terrified of batting. For some reason, I could not get over that fear. I hated when it was my turn to bat. I would basically just swing without any thought to it just so I could not have to run bases. My coach hated me because I wasn’t even trying, and the feeling wasn’t far from mutual. I hated the game because I was always afraid of getting hurt again.
I was coming home from one of our games when I told my mom I was quitting. I hated feeling like I sucked and I hated the anxiety I felt every time I had to bat. Most of all, I hated the damn game itself.
Let me bring this metaphor back in full circle: this is how I’ve felt for the last 6 months with writing. Being rejected not once, but multiple times sometimes feels like getting hit in the face with a softball. It f--king hurts. It makes you afraid. It makes you hesitant to get back in the game. It gives you a lot of anxiety and worst of all, it made me want to quit.
My mom wouldn’t let me quit softball, but my friends/teammates did catch on to my misery. They helped me out during practice and never discouraged me. What I distinctly remember is that during our games, they started cheering for me every time I had to bat. That turned into us cheering for each other each time someone was up, no matter how horrifically they sucked. After our games, we’d all go out for lunch. We would never pick apart the negatives of the game, but focus on all the fun we had in the moment. And at the end of our season, I was actually glad I hadn’t quit.
I was reminded of all this when my dad brought it up around the holidays. It made me think of what I was going through currently with writing. Yeah, I was hurt and afraid and had a LOT of anxiety every time I thought about going back on submission. (I also hate the word anxiety, because it makes me feel like a weak person and I hate portraying myself that way, but I realize now that that’s exactly what it was.) My downfall was that I was focusing more on the number’s game of the writing world rather than the fun of the craft itself. I missed writing for enjoyment. For myself.
Here’s my point, and hopefully I can try and listen to my own advice: yes, writing is a number’s game, but that’s not what you should be focused on. The rejections and disappointment and hurt don’t matter in the long run and those feelings will eventually fade. Everyone goes through this (well, except for the few luckies who’ve never had a single rejection, but I suspect that’s rare). It’s about how many times you pick up that bat to swing. It’s about all the friends, family, agents, editors, and other publishing personnel cheering for you. It’s about all the people who matter telling you not to quit not matter how horribly you think you suck. It’s about the people who care enough to want to help you be better.
They’re all cheering for you. You just have to shut off the negative voices in your head long enough to listen.
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