Surviving The Waiting Game

These days, so much of my life revolves around waiting. I spend hours, sometimes days, working on an essay, query, or cover letter before I send it out, excited and hopeful and scared all at the same time.

medium_6236143793I watch my inbox, eagerly awaiting some kind of response. Days go by, sometimes weeks, sometimes months. I want to hear something, some kind of news about whether my essay will be published, an agent wants to see my manuscript, a job wants to schedule an interview. I start to worry more about what the silence means. I’m scared it means rejection. I soon convince myself that no one likes me and I’ll never hear from anyone about anything again. I’m a failure and a loser and I’ll never get anywhere in life. I’ll never be successful.

Then, an email comes in. Some kind of response. A blog wants my essay, an agent requests the manuscript, a job would like to schedule a phone interview. I’m happy and relieved…for a few minutes. Then I’m back to worrying about all the other things I haven’t heard back about yet. Sometimes, I get the response that I dread: I’ve been rejected. In that case, I indulge myself in some self-pity before eventually getting back to work.

This is the plight of creative people, of course. I’m lucky to live in a time where I can just email stuff out instead of printing and mailing and waiting even longer for a response. But email has a downside – it gives the illusion of efficiency, the misconception that a fast response should be expected. My essays, queries, cover letters are only one in so many. I have to wait my turn.

The only way I get through it is to keep busy. I write new essays, research agents, look for more jobs. The more I send out, the more likely it is I’ll hear something from someone. The nervous energy drives me. The desire for reassurance, for accomplishment, for validation is underneath everything I do. I try to take breaks, stay calm. I go for walks, spend time with people I care about, watch something on Netflix. But I can’t help worrying about the uncertainty.

I know this is what a creative life looks like. I can’t let any one thing get me down or derail me, and I can’t live my life around responses from others. But in many ways, I don’t have a choice. I need those responses to be a successful writer. That’s why waiting for them is so hard. That’s why rejection hurts so much.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. As an anxious person, that’s what tears me apart. I have to learn to live with my uncertainty better. I have to keep things in perspective, acknowledge the accomplishments, and let go of the rejections. That’s the only way to survive the waiting game. I just wish those things were easier to do.

 

(photo credit: Jukie Bot via photopin cc)

Share

My Only New Year’s Resolution

2014 was a tough year. It was a year of loss for myself and many of my loved ones. It was the year that many celebrities we admired passed away. It was a year of cultural unrest, protests, and senseless tragedies.

Thinking of all of this has gotten me down. Depressed. Especially since I’ve just reached a turning point in my own life: my graduation from graduate school. Being done with my MFA means that I no longer have the shelter and safety of school to protect me. It’s time for me to get out there, work, and truly make a name for myself as a writer. And that scares me.

medium_15543621263I’m not a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions. It’s a nice concept, that each year we reexamine what we want from life and what we’d like to be different. Goals are good, and they can be very helpful. But the goals that people make for New Years are often superficial:

It’s time to finally lose that extra weight. It’s time to figure out a new career path, go back to school, be a more accomplished person. It’s time to finally be a “real” creative person, writing, or practicing music, or making new art a certain amount every day.

Hours, word counts, production, successes.

Right now, I’m not sure that 2015 is going to be a better year than last year. If I were to make New Year’s Resolutions, they would be numerous. Like others, they would involve my weight, my career path, and my creative accomplishments. They would involve hours, word counts, production, successes. But I’m not going to make a list.

Instead, I’m going to try to be a little more positive. That’s it. That’s the goal, the resolution, that I truly need to focus on. Because focusing on what’s wrong, what’s problematic, where I’m failing, is only getting me down. That’s the problem with many of our New Year’s Resolutions: they get us down.

I’m not a big “positive thinking” person. I’m actually the opposite. Despite knowing better, I believe that thinking negatively will protect me from bad things, or at least prepare me for them. And I certainly don’t subscribe to the belief that positive thinking works miracles or magically pulls good things into your life.

However, I do believe that thinking more positively can make you feel better. It can make you feel happier and more hopeful. It’s hard to hang onto that knowledge when I feel really negative and depressed, when life seems hopeless and ridiculous and unfair. It’s hard to fight those negative thoughts, the ones that inspire our resolutions.

Still, I want to try. I resolve to try.

I hope that you’ll all join me on my quest to have a more positive year, amidst any new tragedies, frustrations, struggles, and losses. My resolution is to try not to lose hope, even when things get bad. It’s to stop going right to sadness and hopelessness when I think of the future. I want to be in good moments, see all the possibilities, and move forward in my life with just a little bit of optimism. If I can do that, I’ll definitely have a happier new year.

   

(photo credit: BeeFortyTwo via photopin cc)

Share

I Finished My Memoir! Now What?

medium_216516964For years, I’ve dreamed about the moment when I finally finished the first complete draft of my memoir. I imagined confetti falling out of the ceiling, maybe some triumphant trumpet music playing, and a crowd of all the friends and family who have heard me complain, agonize over, and gush about the book for the past five years running into my room, cheering for me and hugging me.

Of course, what really happened is that I stopped typing and stared at the screen in silence for a few minutes.

I’m…done? I thought.

I felt a little flicker of happiness and accomplishment, sure. Throughout the years of angst and writer’s block and a frequent desire to give up, I’d wondered many times whether I’d ever actually finish the book. Just finishing it was a big deal. But then I realized that I’d still need to have a few beta readers look it over, do more edits on it, write a query letter and send it off to agents, then eventually do even more edits if/when it gets picked up by a publisher. I was far from done.

So, instead of feeling all the great feelings I thought I would – instead of confetti, trumpets, and cheers – what I experienced, instead, was panic. Finishing the manuscript, in many ways, is only the beginning of the process. I’d always known that, but for some reason, I thought getting to the next step would feel different.

I started thinking about how tough it was going to be to write the query letter. I worried about the realities of sending the memoir out into the world, wondering what people would think of it if/when someone decided to publish it, afraid of how my friends and family might feel after reading it. This idea, this story, that has been living in my head for so long, can finally take the next step forward into becoming an actual book.

Holy shit.

Am I ready to take the next step? Will I be able to get everything together? Will I have the bravery and strength needed for such a task?

Well, despite the near-paralyzing fears I’ve encountered, I’ve already started writing my query letter, checking in with beta readers, and getting feedback. I’m researching agents and publishers. I keep having to remind myself that I shouldn’t let this publication process negate what I’ve already accomplished. Although the book won’t feel 100% real until I’m holding the finished, printed copy in my hands, I’m so much closer than I’ve ever been. I’ve got the story down, which is truly the hardest part.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the process. All of this is new to me. Even though I’ve been writing for years, this is new territory. It’s terrifying, it’s overwhelming, but it’s exciting too. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I can try to feel good about how far I’ve already come, and keep taking steps to move myself, and my memoir, forward.

Share

Where Do We Go From Here?

I can’t believe it’s been an entire year since I posted here. So much has happened in my life since then.

I’ve thought about revisiting this blog many times, but I always get tripped up on the “what the hell should I write about?” challenge. In my creative work, I spend a lot of time exploring my life and my past. The first draft of my memoir is almost finished, which is a pretty big accomplishment on its own, considering I decided I wanted to write it when I was 12 years old and have been actively working on the manuscript since 2009. I’ll be finishing up my MFA in Writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles in a matter of months. I’m set to graduate in June.

My personal life has also taken some turns, and most are definitely for the better. I’m still figuring out this whole being a writer/adult/human thing. I’ve been coming up against some physical challenges, and the occasional emotional one thrown in. And even though I struggle with confidence and fears, I know I’ve progressed as both a writer and a person. Maybe I don’t always see it, but it’s there.

So, where do we go from here?

I know I’m big on talking about how I’m not sure what to write. It’s what I do instead of actually writing and creating. For now, I will leave you with some new projects I’m involved with. But I haven’t forgotten about this blog, and someday (hopefully soon) I will figure out what to use it for.

babysun-logoIntroducing: THE BABY SUNS

The Baby Suns is an art collective I started a few months ago with my partner-in-crime, the talented artist, Pj Kneisel. We have a webcomic in the works and a zine called Burpy Lovebirds. Issue 1 is now available online, and the comic will be launching soon.

Share

Overcoming Creative Paralysis

I’m not going to lie – I’m currently experiencing a severe case of creative paralysis. When I first started this blog over a year ago, I was full of ideas. I had some writing projects going, found a few subjects I was interested in blogging about, and slowly started connecting with people online.

I don’t know what happened. Somewhere along the line, I lost my confidence. I started questioning every post topic I came up with, every book idea I explored, every word I wrote anywhere about anything.

Now, whenever I sit down to write something, I get stuck. I start to think about how each thing I work on will ultimately help get me where I want to be. Then I realize how far away I am from actually achieving my goals. I get so distracted by feeling overwhelmed that I usually make some excuse to take a break. Before I know it, another unproductive day has gone by, and I’m no closer to realizing my dreams.

I was talking to my friend, Paul, the other day about my creative paralysis, and he gave me some great advice. He said, “Make a to-do list. Think about where you want to end up, and work backwards until you get to what you need to do today.” It seems like it should be common sense, but I really hadn’t given enough thought to the little steps I needed to take to arrive at my destination.

So, what can I do today to get closer to my goals? Well, I can write this blog entry. I can hang out on Twitter and connect with some new people. I can brainstorm ideas. I can write a couple pages of prose. And I can make a to-do list to look at whenever I feel stuck in the future.

I’ll admit that I am still scared and overwhelmed. But focusing on the little steps I can take each day to get closer to my goal makes it feel more manageable. Hopefully, by succeeding in taking steps toward my goal, I’ll start to feel confident again.

Share