Anniversary Week - Best of the YA Muses: Thumbprints into Their Brain
Happy FOUR years, y'all.
I had a hard time picking my favorite post from this year (9/27/13) and while this one brings up some painful query-related memories, it also forces me to remember while I write. I hope a little of that rubs off to you.
For the last several months, I’ve been on the query roller coaster. As most of y’all may know, it’s a dizzying ride and not suitable for people with egos shorter than 42 inches. One particular gut-wrenching drop last June forced me into a deep round of self-evaluation. I may or may not have ugly cried as I asked myself that really awful question: Why the hell was I doing this?
Surprisingly, my brain answered.
It took the form of a rambling email to the Original Muses that might be a little soap boxy, but I swear it was all truthful and having other eyes read my manifesto cemented me to it. I continued on the roller coaster, only to find more peaks and dips. During some of those low points, Katherine and Donna have RESENT my email to me—just as a healthy reminder. Those times, I won’t claim it helped instantly, though it was a good reminder that I’d felt the G’s in a drop before and lived.
Anyhow, for today’s post about Getting Inspired, I wanted to share the infamous email with y’all. Maybe it’ll inspire you. Maybe it’ll just help me find it next time my cart is hurdling for the ground and I can’t catch my breath.
Here you go* (quick note: I modified it a little for the kids in the audience and to protect the names of the guilty…or, ummm, innocent)
Below is a long winded, stream of consciousness that no one needs to read, but I felt like I needed to express. I sorta wanted to share it with the group so you can lob it back my way next time I get in one of those fatalistic meltdowns. Or just so that I have some digital imprint of some (semi) rational thinking regarding why I'm trying to publish. Anyhow...
I've been doing a lot of soul searching since THE rejection. Emotionally, I got slammed again and it forced me to ask myself again, why do I do this?
Obviously, the answer is that I love to write. Y'all understand that. So no more explanation required. It's impossible for me to give up writing and I won't pretend that thought fluttered through my mind.
So the question becomes: Why am I trying to publish?
Part of me thinks I could easily be satisfied drafting, getting feedback, revising, and writing the best effing book I can--and never attempt to set it out to the world. The writing thrills me. The rest makes me a nervous monster.
Why am I trying to publish?
Luckily, I don't need the money. There's not that much fame and fame isn't all that much fun either. I've seen what people go through once published, so I can't pretend that it's butterflies and lollipops once I get an agent or a book deal or anything. Do I want the glory of having a book buried in the middle of some shelf with a trillion others? I do, but I'd also like to have 12-pack abs and a superhero chest. Unfortunately, I don't have the time or the love of the gym to make them reality. Is it fun to never earn out an advance? To never get the marketing or publicity support? To sell a book despite the gatekeepers best efforts to thwart you? To get bad reviews and to be personally attacked by readers? To produce creatively under tight deadlines and then have your next concept shot down?
Why am I trying to publish?
Really, it's because I'd like to have one kid experience what I did the first time I read LORD OF THE FLIES. We were at the lake and instead of swimming, water skiing, and playing like all the other kids. I sat my butt on that boat and read it in a day. I nightmared about Ralph and Jack and the twins that night. My stomach still twists when I think about Ralph being chased through the woods. Or Simon coming out of the jungle into the dancing tribe. Or Piggy falling.
Not only do I want to write that effing good, I want to make someone else feel that way. To dig my thumbprints into their brain so hard they never wash away.
It's a lofty goal. And likely -- even if published -- I'll never know I succeeded.
Still though...do I need to achieve this goal?
I'd die a happy man if I never get printed.
Conversely, I'd be much less fulfilled if I stopped writing.
So it hit me this morning.
The fallacy that I've been making is tying tie my happiness to a want rather than a need. I need food...therefore, not getting food should make me unhappy. I want a million dollars, but I'm cool with my present salary. I can't get pissed every time I lose the lottery.
I NEED to write. Anything that stands in my way of that must. be. destroyed.
I WANT to get published, but refuse to let that dictate my mood (too much) from here on out.
And if you made it to the end, thank you. I'm impressed.