Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Fighting for Position
This week’s topic will be about—once again—writing. However, I feel strongly this analogy can apply to each and every one of us. Last night I watched the Biggest Loser. Their challenge for this week was to haul all the weight they’d lost around an obstacle course full of sand hills and it made the contestants realize how cluttered and difficult their lives had been when they really did carry that extra weight around with them.
Also during last night’s episode, the contestant that lost the most weight (192 pounds) Michael, had a breakdown wherein he said here they were at the final 4 and he’d be the only person going home still obese (since he started at almost 600 pounds). He said how crappy it was to work his butt off this whole time and still be so big.
Which led me to see his problem in the terms of my writing life. Which led my husband to roll his eyes and duck into the kitchen, but he plays an important part in this journey. He’s partially the “Bob” in my writing life.
I totally understood what Michael was talking about and why he was so angry. It’s exactly what my personal journey in this writing world has been like. For the last two years, I’ve worked my butt off, always learning, getting stronger, writing better. Yet, where have I really gotten? Half the time, I feel as if I spend my time back peddling in a sea that’s the consistency of peanut butter.
Each day is a struggle to balance writing with everything else that an author needs to deal with in the writing business. Not to mention keeping relationships alive, trying to run the household and everything else that is a part of real life. It seems like I have zero free time now because working for myself means that I’m literally working every waking hour—on something.
What’s different about 2010 is the fact that the amount of rejected projects is stacking up with rapid acceleration and reminds me of the year when I decided to “get serious” about writing was still “pre-published”. What does this mean? Has the market tightened? Is the amount of other competing writers out there hugely increased more than at the time I started? Has my quality of writing slipped? Am I not writing the “cool” stuff? These are all questions I have no answers for.
But back to Michael.
He was angry because he felt like his struggle was for nothing and he hadn’t arrived at where he felt he should be at this particular time.
Enter Bob the trainer. He reminded Michael to look back at where he’d started and what he’d accomplished over the short amount of time he’d been working at the weight loss goal. He reminded Michael it was a process. This is how my husband is. Very mellow, saying “I’m sorry you feel this way, but look at how far you’ve come.” You know, the gentle platitudes designed to calm but they usually just tick me off LOL
Michael went ballistic and said Bob just didn’t understand what he (Michael) was going through. Again, I could sympathize with Michael. Unless a person has walked the path before me, they simply won’t understand.
You see, there are some walking the path with you that it seems everything is coming up roses for. They never get rejected, sales come easy, adoring readers litter their walk, everything word they type turns to gold.
This is not my luck and neither was it Michael’s.
Enter the “other” side of Bob the trainer. The scary side. The dark side. The one that says “fine, if you want to feel sorry for yourself, then do it. But you’ll never be better than you are right now if you don’t believe in yourself and you’ll let down all the people who are behind you. You’re setting yourself up for defeat and you’ll never realize the greatness life has in store for you.” Through all the distractions in the gym, all the noise and the looks and snickers from the other people, Bob demanded that Michael focus on the goal and don’t worry about anyone else’s journey.
And yes, thankfully, I have someone in my life—my Bob--that picks me up and sets me on the right path when I fall into the pit of doubt and self-loathing and envy and anger. She won’t let me fall, she re-sets my focus, and best of all, she believes in me. Does she get mad when I say negative things about myself? You bet. She’s my scary Bob. But, darn it, everything she says is correct and she’s always right. Thanks for being my Bob. You know who you are. I’m the better for it every day. The growth is there, praise be.
As in Michael’s case, Bob told him the path ahead won’t be easy and yes, it will be a constant struggle to succeed—to be heard. Anything you want from life that has any meaning you’ll need to work for. How else are you going to enjoy it once you accomplish it?
The same can be applied to my writing journey. Am I at the place where I want to be? Not by a long shot. Do I know where that place is? Not right now because the goal keeps shifting the longer I’m in this business, but I’m steadily working my way toward it. Am I proud of what I’ve accomplished since I first became an author? Yes, but I know I can do better, that there are bigger things out there to be conquered.
I spend my writing time getting stronger, getting better, being shot down and climbing to get back up again. That’s the key. Not letting circumstances defeat me. With every bad thing that comes my way, my skin gets a little bit thicker, I learn a little bit faster. I get smarter, I make wiser choices, I back track. I have to learn how to continue to navigate through the noise around me, eliminate the negative, and realize I can do this—and have already climbed a hundred mountains even though there will be many more.
And one day, I will reach my goal, grab hold of my dream, because I am a fighter.
So are you. Never give up. Never give in. Keep fighting for position.