Facing It

I spent most of this week catching up on reading, sending out submissions and teaching applications and trying to hold on while the universe seemed to be spinning without me. I found myself feeling that old tug to just get a 9-5 office job again and stop the struggle. Give up the fight. Just get on with it.

I stared at the edits I needed to make on the poetry manuscript. I flipped through the list of submissions and rejections I have collected over the last year or so. I opened and closed the file on the new novel, expanded from a short story, with a kick-ass lead character that I am really enjoying working on but can't find the mojo to really concentrate on this week.

And then last night I got some negative news. You know, it's not so much that the news was so bad, or that it was something that would negatively affect me, it was just something disappointing that came from an unexpected source. And I do have to admit, that I did let it crash me a bit. I felt slightly betrayed; felt that I had put my trust in someone, again, only to be let down.

So I woke up this morning in a somewhat defeated mood. I've been closed up in the house for about a week dealing with another back pain cycle and my dog limping from a paw with a large cyst and, of course, the aforementioned pile of writing that needed my attention. And it was raining.

When the Deerpark delivery man came to swap out my cooler I was like the old woman in a sitcom and started talking the poor guy's ear off. During our conversation about weather, and how lucky we are that we are getting all this rain instead of snow snow, he mentioned that he missed all the snow last year because he was in the hospital. I asked what had happened because I am a writer and always ask too many questions. And because I assumed it was a car accident or burst appendix or something typical. This 6 foot 3 man hauling 5 gallon water bottles around casually said "I had a pulmonary embolism." After telling me about his hospital stay, how close he had come to death and how hard it had been on his family, especially his wife, I asked him if he complains much after that. He kind of chuckled and said “No, not much anymore after that.”

So it got me to thinking about the close calls that we have in life. How we complain, or I should say, how I complain about silly things like being on hold when calling customer service, being billed incorrectly for something that is easily fixed, being frustrated if I have to reset a cable modem or slide the gate over for the 3rd time this year because the dog is getting old and keeps hurting herself.

After the delivery man left and the new cooler heated up correctly and didn't overflow, catch fire, or any of the other things that I worry about on a day-to-day basis, I went upstairs into my home office and pulled out the videos of my thesis defense last summer. I've done this a few times now when I get discouraged as a writer. When I think that I'm not good enough or not trendy enough. When I read other people's writing and think I will never reach that summit. I find that watching myself from the outside without everything that was attached to passing that defense, helps me to remember who I am and why I became a writer in the first place.

So I spent the rest of the day listening to the video,  pulling out the readings from the defense portion and posting them onto YouTube so I could update my links page on this blog. And I remembered why I went back to school. Why I wanted to have those degrees on my wall. And how far my writing has come in just the past 3 years.

So the next time you're down, feeling discouraged, or responding to something critical that someone has said about your writing. Or, more importantly, something critical someone has said about your potential. Do yourself this favor: lock yourself in a room, pull out all of your writing and listen to your own voice. Hear what your own voice is saying to you. Get back in touch with your own voice and reintroduce yourself to the writer within you.