In a recurring theme, I’m going to blog a little bit about writing and perseverance. It’s my blog and I’ll blog about something I’ve already blogged about if I want to.
Any writer you talk to is going to tell you that making it as a writer is a marathon, not a sprint. That every writer has a whole stack or email box full of rejections. That writing careers can fail at any point along the path, including after being published. I know that and I don’t care.
I’ve gritted my teeth through “you’re never going to get paid doing that” and “you’re not a real writer if you’re not getting paid.”
I’ve gritted my teeth through short story rejections since 2012.
My most recent one was last week, and it still hurts every single time.
I’m gritting my teeth through submissions on my first novel right now. Do I expect it to succeed? No, because I’m a pessimist by inclination—I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than get my hopes up and have them dashed.
And yet I can’t help but hope that it’ll succeed. Even as I’m working on my third novel before I edit my second because I fully expect that no agent will pick this first novel up, I’m hoping someone will want the first novel and I’ll have an excuse to go back to that world and finish that story. I still dream about Robbie and Sam, even if I’ll never get to them again. Because I expect failure.
But every now and then it really gets to me. I take a long look at what I’m doing with my free time and think, couldn’t I do something more productive? I could be gardening. I could be playing video games. I could be reading—you know, that thing I used to do for fun. I could pick up a bassoon again (as though they aren’t prohibitively expensive, which is why I don’t still play in the first place). I could start reading again, just reading for the sheer joy of it instead of picking books apart as I go. I start thinking that I’m never going to make it, that I should just give up. It would be so easy to just let it all go and stop trying to be something I’m not. I have a good job, I like my job, I have people who love me. I’m already among the lucky ones.
Invariably, this “just give up” train of thought is depression-related. It’s my brain telling me that I need to take a break or it’s going to break me in half. I have to stop writing two hours a night and tell myself that I’m taking the week off, that it’s okay to relax and play some video games and recharge.
As long as I set a time limit on it and get back on the horse. Because writing is something I have to do to be happy. Because I’d be doing it anyway. Because I really, really want this to work when the depression isn’t eating at me. Because I can do it if I try long enough and hard enough. Because I will do it as long as it takes, because there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.