Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Don't Weaken

by Nib

Is it me, or has it been a long, cold, gray winter? I’m ashamed to say I sort of lost my grip during this last season. I’ve been fortunate that either by nurture or nature, I normally maintain a cautiously upbeat outlook on life in general. To augment that, I’m like the Thought Traffic Cop, directing them from the dangerous road of negativity to the more positive lane.

Something twisted in my head last fall, though, and my determined optimism faded. I opened my mind to a dribble of fear and soon, I was flooded with it. I turned in the last book of a three-book series and my new proposal hadn’t been accepted. I started writing in a new genre, experimenting with alternative publishing methods. I moved from my supportive writing network to the boonies. And I started to fret.
What if I was all washed up? What if my book sales tanked? What if no one ever wanted the new mystery series I wanted to write? What if these new books wouldn’t be successful?
I kept up a respectable daily word count but writing became a sentence, not fun. (Okay, let’s be truthful, writing for me in rarely fun, but I often feel satisfied.) My view of myself as a big fat loser grew to US dietary proportions. I literally saw my world in black and white. (I mean that literally, as in the movie Nebraska.)

I’m not sure what caused the turning point but one day it hit me. I had nothing to moan about. My goodness (truth is I probably didn’t say “my goodness” or "moan."), I had a three-book deal with a decent publishing house! How long had I worked toward that goal? I reminded myself that not long ago I’d said, “If I could have three books published, I might give up writing and become a full-time reader.” Somewhere along the line, though, I’d raised the bar on myself. Suddenly three books weren’t enough. And I wallowed in self-pity that my sales didn’t rival more successful writers.
The truth is, I may never get another publishing contract. This is what I’ve got right now: two books released, one due out next year. I had darned-well better enjoy this ride. If it’s the last time I go round, I’ll kick myself if I spend the whole time worrying about what’s next.
I also decided to stop writing the books that weren’t feeding me and start to have fun (again, a relative term). Just like the pall of winter lifting for spring, my gloom lightened. Negative self-talk that had become habit required conscious thought to change. But it’s so worth the effort.
Instead of thinking, “oh no, how will lightening ever strike me twice?” I’m feeling gratitude for the shock of the first time. I’m infused with new energy and determination to get going. No one may want to publish this next series but it’s the book I want to write. Thinking of it makes me happy. So that’s what I’m going to work on.
Maybe my new-found optimism is more a product of the coming spring than it is my ability to direct my own thinking. But it snowed yesterday and there’s a definite dreariness in the sky today. And yet, I threw myself into my new project with enthusiasm.

As my dear father-in-law used to say: It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.  

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Nib... and respectable word count is quite an understatement for what you've been able to do. So glad that you decided to reignite the joy!