Probably the most difficult exercise of patience that a writer must experience is waiting for for an editor, agent, graduate school, mentor to tell her if her work is "acceptable." Oh, I know all of the things we tell ourselves -- that publication just wasn't right for me OR I probably wouldn't have liked working with that agent anyway. But you know what, we are just fibbing to ourselves. We tell ourselves those stories in order to comfort ourselves and to keep ourselves from feeling the full effect of rejection. Because trust and believe, when one of the above mentioned individuals tells us that our work is good but not what they are looking for right now, we feel like we just got socked in the belly. Like someone just looked at our pretty little baby and said, "She's alright." Oh, the feeling of being socked in the gut passes -- eventually. But let's not kid ourselves -- one rejection can have the power to render us helpless to the point where the only thing that we are physically, spiritually and/or mentally capable of doing is climb into a warm, comfy bed,watch reruns of Dowton Abbey,and scarf down an entire gallon of Dark Chocolate Häagen-Daz ice cream. I am here to reassure you that it IS okay to do some wallowing when that big let down happens, BUT, we mustn't wallow forever. Like in the immortal words of Scarlett O'Hara, we must remind ourselves that, yes, "tomorrow is another day," and ultimately, no matter how many times THEY say no, we have to continue to do that thing we both love and hate, and that is write.
Those of us who write, often complain that we don't have enough time. I do it. But when I really think about the hours of the day that I spend checking email, Facebook, Twitter, mindless television -- I realize that I do have time. The real problem is not the time, but the motivation. So I have decided to try a little trick. Instead of saying I don't have time to write, instead I am going to start saying to myself -- until you write something, anything, you don't have time to eat, drink, sleep, grade papers, watch television, talk to the people you love, answer the phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Basically, using the words of Celie in the Color Purple, until I do right by me...well, I will not give my attention to ANYTHING else. Sounds radical, and I am not sure if this mind trick will work, but I am going to try it. I need to tell myself that nothing is more important than my need to write. I need to convince myself that I am a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, teacher, friend, etc. when I write. I need to remind myself that I feel good when I am putting words to paper; when I am allowing the spirits dwelling in my head to come alive on paper.
So today, I make that commitment to myself. We'll see how it works. Oh, and I would love to hear how you make that time for your writing.