It seems as though I blinked and a year has passed. Where did all that time go?
How could it be that CBC has issued their call for submissions for their 2019 Short Story Prize and NaNoWriMo is only a few weeks away?
Last June I had said to a very dear friend of mine that I felt like something was gonna happen in my life, but I didn’t know what or when. I said it felt like that energy that coursed through Tony in West Side Story when he was singing “Something’s Coming”.
Unfortunately for my friend, I began to sing the song – but stopped when it became clear that a) she had never heard the song before in her life, and b) I can’t sing and I shouldn’t be putting other people through that.
In case you haven’t heard the song, please enjoy “Something’s Coming”. In the film, the role of Tony was played by Richard Beymer and sung by Jimmy Bryant.
The point of that little tale was something more than a reinforcement of my love of that movie and how I continually find that it is applicable to my life. It was a reminder of how excited I was about this thing that had been realized. I hadn’t uttered a single syllable about writing to anyone at that point, and I did not know then that the “something” that was coming was, in fact, this journey. And once that was revealed to me, I had no idea how it would unfold, but I knew I was excited about the possibilities.
I had no true understanding of what it meant to be a writer. I suppose I still don’t, but I am learning everyday. I try to absorb as much as I can, read as much about the business side of things as I can, while still trying to hone the craft itself.
To my ear, saying things like “The Craft” sounds so foreign and presumptuous I can’t help but feel like an imposter when saying it. But still, I persist. I am all over the web to read the blogs and tweets of other writers and join in, as much as I can through that impersonal medium, to experience and share what it means to be a writer, today.
One thing that I am learning as I continue on my writing journey is that not everything is for everyone. I have spent the majority of my writing time creating short stories that are submitted to various literary magazines and competitions and have been receiving my fair share of rejection letters.
I saw this meme on the web the other day and it made me laugh.
There are several memes about the number of tears you’ve cried and the like and one thing is for certain, this rejection thing is just a part of this life. A HUGE part of it. I haven’t shed any tears – yet(?), but I don’t begrudge anyone who has. It’s a tough gig, and that’s on the novice level.
I read something recently about branding and how it can be difficult to do something other than your “brand” and how your continued success is precariously balanced on getting that right, while not alienating others so you can have flexibility. It was a sobering article when balanced with the unbridled enthusiastic “Write! Write! Write!” sentiment that you will find on the web.
Writers need support and encouragement – absolutely. But I also think we need a reality check every now and again. Or else the unfettered expectation of instant success and praise met with the crushing slew of rejection can halt a writer’s progress and self confidence before they can produce that “next best thing”. This writing thing can prove to be a really difficult road.
I am glad to have been brought up with a healthy sense of self deprecation and humility. And above all else, patience. I don’t know how anyone could survive in the world, let alone this world, without it.
I guess I am learning that the thing you produce might not be for everyone (Dad – jk….love you!!), but that should not stop you from doing the thing you love to do and putting into as many hands as you can, to hopefully find someone who will appreciate it. And that, my friends, that takes time and persistence and the ability to get over one’s self and out of one’s way in order to keep writing.
While I await that fated (yes, fated) positive response, I will keep learning all I can. I will keep listening to the constructive criticism passed my way, bolster myself with the positivity and enthusiasm of the online community and wrap myself in the warmth of the encouraging words of good friends.
Making writing a career – especially without an MFA next to your name and (at this time) no publication history – aside from right here – is tough. “Keep your day job” some say. Those that say it may be mocking you, but there is sound advice in those words – especially if you have bills to pay. They may be upset because you are trying to do the thing that they once tried to do and subsequently gave up on. Or, maybe they’re just jerks (knowing the difference can save a relationship or two).
I would agree with the sentiment though, with one very large caveat. Keep your day job, but ensure that you carve out time for your passion, for one day it may become your day job. That’s kind of the whole point right? I know I certainly wouldn’t put myself through it, unless I wanted to make it a career.
The drive to keep striving toward a satisfying (however you define it) writing career is completely in your hands. Learning to manage the disappointments that will invariably come your way, is something you have to do.
And with that in my back pocket, I’m gonna keep pushing, I’m gonna keep writing and one day – soon – you will see my name on a bookshelf near you!