[L]earning how to endure your disappointments and frustration is part of the job of a creative person.-Elizabeth Gilbert (Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear)
So what's a disappointment for a writer?
How about having that "brilliant" manuscript torn apart by a writing group?
Torn apart is rather harsh but that's how it feels. Every second word circled, lengthy comments down the margins--it doesn't look like priceless help.
"My baby!" I want to cry.
"You don't understand. I wrote it like that because..."
I want to leap in immediately and defend my work. But I've found that it's more helpful to keep my mouth closed and my ears open.
Would the purposed changes strengthen the story? If it would, I accept the challenge.
I choose to approach the re-write like a game.
What I wrote doesn't work. What will? What about this?
And I don't wait for self-doubt to set in, I start working on the manuscript as soon as I can.
So what's a frustration for a writer?
How about having that "brilliant" manuscript rejected by a publisher?
They rejected my story; they rejected me. My story sucks; I suck. Does that sound like your self-talk?
I can go and go like that or...or...
Instead, I view the submitting process as a treasure hunt. The treasure: a publisher for my story. I leave no stone left unturned as I hunt. Every rejection letter I receive is one more publisher who has read my story. Every rejection letter received is proof that I Am a Writer. Every "no" brings me closer to a "yes".
If destiny didn't want me to be a writer, I figure then it shouldn't have made me one. But it did make me one, and I've decided to meet that destiny with as much good cheer and as little drama as I can--because how I choose to handle myself as a writer is entirely my own choice... My ultimate choice...is to always approach my work from a place of stubborn gladness.-Elizabeth Gilbert (Big Magic)
Writer Unboxed article: Are we having fun yet?
And I try to view my writing with stubborn gladness, as well. But sometimes, sometimes...
Times like this week, in fact.
I was working on a picture book manuscript when--right in front of my eyes--the hole thing fell apart.
How did that happen?
I checked out books similar to mine and found too many. They weren't exactly like it, but close enough. And one of them... Well, let's just say I really didn't like it. It was so pretentious--like the author was jumping up and down, saying, "Look at me. I'm so clever."
The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. After that I found it impossible to return to my story.
What do you do when this happens?
What I did was shelf the work-in-progress. I'm hoping that some day the spark of inspiration will re-ignite.