Like most of us, I’ve had a lot of rejection in my time. You would think I would be getting used to it by now, but it still carries a painful barb. My novel got rejected this week. To really rub salt into the wound it was just a two sentence ‘dear author…’ rejection. In recent history I’ve usually got a personal note to say it was good, just not what they were looking for, but that was bitterly absent on this one.
It was interesting to go through the rejection transition, which does speed up as you get more ‘used’ to rejection. The first step is what I think of as the ‘it’s me’ stage –where you read the subtext of the rejection as “what the hell are you doing wasting your time on this? You can’t write, so just stop, okay?”
The next stage is the ‘it’s them’ where the rejection reads as “we are too small minded to consider things outside the box and are closed to the potential of doing something different.” I used to stay in this stage for a long and angry time.
The final stage is the ‘the planets didn’t align’ stage where you realise they were just not the right publisher for your book. They were looking for something and this wasn’t it. Someone else will be looking for it and they will be as excited as a kid who has found their mother’s chocolate stash (behind the fantasy novels in the bookshelf) when they read your pages. That’s the publisher you want championing your book.
This time it took about 24 hours to transition, so I think I need to apologise to my work colleagues and I know I need to apologise to my family for my foul mood on Wednesday. I was in stage 1 at work and 2 at home. Sorry. And thank you to my fantastic friends for dragging me into stage 3 much faster than I think I would have been able to do so alone.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about exactly what writing is, as you can gather from my posts, and now I’m redefining my concept of writing. I used to think of it as just putting words on a page, that writing was literally writing but there is so much more to it than that.
Thinking is a big part. One of my friends says her first draft is the one she comes up with in her head. There is no writing at all for that one, you see it as a private movie, some scenes being replayed dozens of times before you are happy to move on. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.
Writing is also considering which way to go next. I have five core pieces of writing that I have started and hope to finish one day, another twenty which are just started but I’m almost ready to let them go. Working out which one is the next one to commit to is a big decision. That too is writing.
I think the only time I will be able to stay that I have stopped writing is when I stop thinking about it. At the moment I think about something to do with my stories every day, multiple times a day.
So this week I did a lot of writing in my head. Sure, this new definition may just be giving me an excuse to avoid putting the words on the page, but I don’t see how getting stressed about not writing will help me either.
I’ve been sitting here trying to think up a post I could write which would distract you from the fact that I’m not answering my last post, but I couldn’t. So honesty is the best policy; I didn’t write a word.
The positive side is that I didn’t even turn on the computer, so it’s not like I sat staring at a blank screen three times this week. The curse of active November struck again and I had unexpected events covering two ‘dedicated’ writing times, and one night I was just too damned tired.
So I’m going to try again this week. If I’m writing the same post next week, then you know I’m embracing the excuse and maybe I really am just avoiding writing.
I have a very short fuse at the moment. Everyone is feeling it; friends, family, my computer (but in my defence the computer has seriously been provoking me this week). What’s even worse is I feel justified in every outburst, which is very out of character for me. The guilt module has apparently been uninstalled.
There is a lot of stress at work again, with 200 people being made redundant last month and a threat of more on the way. I’ve also managed to over-book my weekends, leaving the precious little time at home to be filled with unavoidable chores.
But I wonder if the stress is not really the cause of my grumpiness, after all, it is usually there in one form or other. I am starting to think it is the lack of writing.
True, the stress has impacted on the urge to write, but maybe when I have been turning away from the computer I should actually be turning to it? It is like when you start feeling sad, so you avoid going out, but when you do get forced to go out you realise it is the best medicine for your sadness. I think writing might actually be my stress outlet.
So I will say no to a few people this week (lucky for the guilt un-installation), turn the phone off, detach the internet, unplug the TV and force myself to write. I will commit to Monday night, Thursday night and Saturday ALL morning. Let’s see if this is the kick-start that starts to improve my mood as well as my productivity.
I know that all I have to do is sit myself down at the computer and make myself write, but for some reason I’m not doing it. The garden beckons, or my tax needs to be done or any of 100 other reasons come up. They are all just excuses not to write.
When I get like this I wonder if maybe I’ve stopped being a writer, and it used to scare me a bit, but I’ve been through this before so I know I will snap out of it. I’ve got blog posts about it from last time it happened.
The thing that gives me faith that I will one day get the urge to sit back down at the computer is that I still think about my stories all the time. While I’m fighting the lawnmower across the grow-5-cm-a-week grass, I’m thinking about the next novel in my were-world. I see scenes that I watch and re-watch in my head, honing them down to what feels right. I’m sure once I’ve got it I will come into the study, boot up the computer and put some words on a page. I’ll be a writer again.
It just didn’t happen this week.