January 29, 2010
For discouraging days. . .
Posted by Leslie Zeigler
Have you been trying for a long time to get your novel published? Perhaps you’ve sent out over 45 query letters and are at your wits’ end. You feel disappointed and very discouraged and ready to quit trying. Maybe it is not a novel, but a screenplay, that you are shopping around to no avail. Or perhaps you can’t find a publisher for your book of poetry. But facing a lot of rejection is often a necessary ingredient of getting closer to your creative dream.
What happens when you feel a loss of hope? Or at least that is often how it feels in the moment, even though another part of you may believe there is some hope. What do you do to get through this emotional hurdle? Some people will tell you to just create an affirmation and tell yourself that you feel sure that you are going to succeed. If that works for you, try it. I personally believe that it is important to allow yourself to feel what you feel– even if feeling discouraged makes you feel tired, down and uncomfortable. Your mood will pass. Until it does, let yourself indulge in whatever works for you – maybe it is a pint of your favorite flavor of Ben and Jerry’s or snuggling up with a mystery novel you have been wanting to read but for which you have just not had the time. Find out what works for you to make you able to cope with this feeling.
But what is most important to remember is NOT TO GIVE UP. When your energy and focus get a bit better, make sure that you send out another query letter, make a phone call, or do whatever task is required to keep trying to move your creative dream forward.
January 24, 2010
When I was young, going back to school after an extended period of absence was always painfully difficult. You were behind in your classes – fractions, what are they? Resuming relationships with teachers and peers was tricky. And the confinement of the classroom was never as comfortable as the freedom of home.
Picking up your creative work – or any work – after a long period away is just as hard. If you were in the middle of something, it’s hard to remember how you got there and where you meant to go next. If you were just about to start something new, any ideas you had about it have probably lost their freshness and zing. It’s hard to sit down at the desk, the computer, the easel, your musical instrument – it’s hard to fit yourself back into the tools of your trade. Nothing feels quite right. It’s as if while you were away, you turned into someone else – someone who doesn’t know how to do what you were quite comfortable doing a few weeks or months before.
The funny thing is, it’s probably true. You’re not exactly who you were before whatever it was (and it can be so many things, from health, to an intense work situation, to being a caregiver for others, and on, and on). The experience has probably changed you, and you may not be able to pick up exactly where you left off. Your project, your dream, may not take the exact shape you had planned for it before the interruption. The trick, I’m finding, as I try and fit myself back into my own creative projects, is to take some time and not expect anything to look the same three months later. I’m different, and so my work has become different, too. Maybe it’s an accelerated version of what happens when you pick up a story you wrote ten years ago – or look at a photograph you took twenty years ago. It was a substantially different person who wrote that story, who peered through that lens. You, always you, but not quite the same you. Maybe you write a little differently now. Maybe you want to pick a new key, or another palette. Instead of tensing yourself up and pushing through to finish, it might be a moment to relax a little and allow some experimentation. Your work waited this long, it can wait a little longer, and reap whatever benefit can come from the unanticipated interruption, and being forced to look at things in a new way.