Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Cheese Stands Alone

Last week was a surprisingly rough one on the writing front. Combined with a perfect storm of rejections and Category 5 PMS, it landed me in the depths of despair. Everyone, it seemed, had something negative to say.  Even things that should have been positive had their negative sides revealed. Suffice to say, it felt like the universe was kicking me in the teeth.

Then, today, I remembered a line from a song I haven't heard since elementary school:  the cheese stands alone. That is going to be my writing mantra from here on out.

Writing is a solitary pursuit.  It is not meant to be done with others.  It is not meant to be done in anticipation of what others might think or say.  Somehow, I allowed myself to be so swayed by what other people were doing or saying that I lost my focus.  I stopped having fun and enjoying the ride.

The problem, I think, has two causes:

(1) I want to be a published writer so badly it feels like it will literally kill me if it doesn't happen.  Every rejection feels like a nail through the heart...or the head.  I know these thing shouldn't be taken personally, but this is my dream.  This is my everything.  There is no way it won't hurt.  I can't just walk away from this.  I have to keep trying.  In essence, it's a torture that may not end.  Ever.  But, much like the Thorn Birds, still I do it.

(2) I spend a fair amount of time each day reading writer blogs, agent blogs, editor blogs, and reader blogs.  This is not good.  Maybe other people can handle all those voices in their heads, all those agent posts wondering why the perfect query hasn't dropped in their lap yet, but I can't.  In my mind, I've sent them the perfect query and been told no.  I've submitted a book into which I put everything I have to give.  If you read lots of agent posts, they repeatedly tell writers this is all they need to do.  It is not.  What they don't tell you is that certain genres are off-limits unless you're a mega-seller.  But then their blog posts repeatedly claim that if you write what you love and write it with heart and skill, your book will find a home.  I'm still searching, so I have to take this with a grain of salt.  It's part of the game, I know, but I can't then sit back and read posts lecturing writers on no-nos that I haven't committed without some degree of bitterness.  Lots of degrees of bitterness, actually.  This is probably natural for lots of writers, and many of you probably deal with it better than I do.  But because I want this so badly, my blood burns for it.  It makes me crazy to read too much about the industry or other people's successes or failures.  It makes me think about having what they have or wanting what they want instead of shutting the hell up and writing.  I start wondering what each successful person did that I'm not doing.  I go mad with jealousy.  It keeps me from being a happy person.  This makes my husband very angry, and I already burden him with a hefty number of personal oddities.

The cheese must stand alone.

I'm going to try limiting my blog reading to one day a week, where I madly skim what's been going on, either preceded or followed by a shot of whiskey.  Being somewhat bitter about the publishing industry and the difficulty in getting an agent is a huge drawback when all I want is to be accepted by both.  The only thing I can do to help myself, in this case, is focus on my writing instead of knowing everything that's going on in the industry.  And if I write what I love and I do it to the best of my ability and it still doesn't happen for me, well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.