Thursday, January 13, 2011

And a winner is ... also, being a writer is WEIRD.

First off, the winner! Thank you all for stopping by and checking out the interview and for all of your RTs. It's awesome to see the growing excitement for not only Pam Bachorz's CANDOR, but DROUGHT as well! Even if you don't win, I hope you head out and buy one to a million copies. It's worth it. So! Who pleased the RNG (random number generator) gods most this week? Drumroll, please.

drrrrrrrrrrrdrrrrdrdrdrdrr... (how do you write a drumroll?)


Congrats, Sylvia! A winner is you! Send me your address at kmcriddle (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll get those to you right away. Now, onto some thinking.

I know this doesn't come as a surprise, but the life of a writer is weird. And sometimes sad. I remember writing a report on Jack London back in 5th grade (I loved me those wolves...and one of my career aspirations was to be a gold miner) and I was startled to see how unhappy his personal life was. Divorce, heartbreak, riotous drinking, imprisonment and early death. Pick any brilliant writer out from the list history gives us and you'll see similar stories. Heck, studies show that the creative writer is often more prone to mental illness than the normal human being; it's called the "Sylvia Plath effect". (I've written Sylvia so many times in this post.)

But I think some of this craziness, at least for me, comes from trying to horn my writing into the existing world in some way (read: publication). Querying, revising, submitting, BEING on submission--all of this is a way for someone to tell you NO. You're doing it wrong. That's not correct. No one will read this. This doesn't make sense. Let's put that one aside for now. I'm not sure the market's ready for this. This has been done a million times before. Am I missing any? We like to say "I write for myself and no one else" but our mind doesn't always accept that excuse and we're back to comparing ourselves to the rest of the world, trying to be the next best thing. Even if we are the next best thing, sometimes it comes from trying to live back up to that standard. Every success comes with more stress and handling it logically is not often something that creative writers can do...ahem...gracefully.

My recent way of dealing with this? I've taken to telling myself that I'm not just a writer. To put all my eggs in the holey, ever shifting, broken handled basket that is the profession of "writing" is just trouble. It's what I do, but it's not who I am. I'm a reader, a mother, a wife, an artist, a human rice cooker, a traveler...get it? You get it. Every bit of my experience in those fields might make me a better writer, but heaven forbid that such a small, fuzzy label can define me. When I tell myself that writing is not the end all be all in my professional life, the rejection is easier to take. It's still hard, but it's not the end of my life and sanity.

I think my rambling has squirreled off into parts unknown now. Time to go turn off the oven.

How do you handle the stress of being a writer? Do you even have stress over it? WHAT IS YOUR SECRET AND WILL YOU BOTTLE IT AND SELL IT TO ME?

Sigh. I'm off to feed the ducks.


Susan Kaye Quinn said...

All I can say is, Thank God the popcorn distraction worked. :)

My best stress reliever is focusing on the writing. Because that I inherently enjoy, separate from all the rest of it. But I do want readers, so I have to brave the publishing ramparts. But occasional retreats into the writerly shell (to recoup, recover) are what get me ready to charge forth again. :)

K. Marie Criddle said...

I know, right? Ducks are scary little dinosaurs.

I think that's such a good idea, to channel energies into writing and enjoy it as we were meant to. It's definitely something I need to develop rather than seeing writing as a source of stress. I like that, Susan, thanks!

L. T. Host said...

Yeah sometimes I wonder how crazy I really am.

Because I love writing. I love letting a story fall out of me and onto the page. But I kind of hate all the waiting, and the rejection, and the low self-esteem that comes from wanting other people to like my writing (at least professionally).

I don't know, I kind of blame it on my childhood where everyone told me I was smart and special and unique-- and now I just want to feel that way again by having someone pick my MS out of a pile and go, "YOU! You're good enough to do this. Let's go. You're gonna be a star."

And there's the self-respect that keeps me going, too-- the self-respect that will come with seeing my name on a legit book spine.

BUT-- none of that stops me from writing. Waiting for that stuff might be stressful, and it might not always be fun, but it's not why I write.

I think, though this is old, that the best way around the stress is to lose yourself in another story. Nothing has ever soothed me so much as writing another book.

(Wow, this got long and kinda angsty. And a little psychobabbly. Weird.)

Queen 'Bina said...

I don't have writer's stress yet. I'm far too unknown to be rejected. Being a shiny newbie, I can bask in the idealism for a bit longer. At least until my pages are ready to be oogled at and torn to bits by everyone from my supportive-yet-critical-sister-in-law to the agent who doesn't want to represent me. Soooo looking forward to that. Oh, but positive thoughts.
I am a talented writer...
Others will one day recognize that as well...
The story needs to be told and if I don't tell it, no one will; literally...

And if all else fails, make your baby laugh for a little while. Or put her down for a nap and get the hubby to take one with you :oD

K. Marie Criddle said...

I love the pure passion you have for it all, L.T. Seeing this in other people helps me figure out why I started writing in the first place and it definitely helps me reclaim that fire when I'm feeling down and out. Thank you!

And Robin, I like these napping ideas, too. Veeery much. Even so, being a shiny newbie has so many awesome perks. If we could figure out how to retain that hope and optimism through all the stages of creating, revising and publication, we would be very happy writers indeed.

You guys are awesome. Thank you.

Matthew Delman said...

I once told a friend that I'm "enough of a bull-headed jackass" to make sure rejections don't get to me.

Not entirely an inaccurate assessment of myself either. ;)