March 10, 2008

Coping Mechanisms

Today, my thoughts kept returning to the very apt posts by Sara and Liz about the "Why not me?" thought pattern--the "When is it my turn? Is it now? OK, how about now?" thoughts that can circulate in an unpublished (or published) writer's head. In the face of another novel rejection from an agent today, I found those "why-not-mes" sneaking their way back into my brain, gumming up the works, preventing both logical evaluation of the situation and any further creative work for the day.

I wonder how others cope with the "why-not-mes." I have a few different ways. Sometimes a nap helps, or a good long visit to the gym, if I have time for either of those. Whatever I do, I try to take a little bit of a break from whatever is prompting the self-doubt, and do something else I enjoy. Today, I tried to remind myself about this week's Art By Committee (here's last week's) over at Gurney Journey, a blog I'm really starting to enjoy reading. I sent in a much better drawing (in my opinion) this time, so I'm hoping to look less lame next to all those professional pencil-monkeys.

Blogging, obviously, is something else I can use to get my mind off things. I'm hoping to get to a few book reviews tonight or tomorrow for Readers' Rants. That helps, as does checking out other people's great posts and exploring sites that are new to me. I found out about a new bi-weekly children's book newsletter this week, as well as (via TadMack) a really hilarious site called Boys Rule! Boys Read!. Do NOT miss their ongoing March Madness book tournament and other fun book-related activities. Sara posted a great art-related nonfiction review today for Nonfiction Monday (check out the roundup for more titles).

And, sadly, sometimes there's nothing like a shocking news story to bring you out of your own wallowing. The idea of a string of teen suicides makes me shudder, but it also reminds me that part of the reason I write for a teen audience is that I think--I hope--that reading my work might someday help someone through a tough time, or distract someone from their own troubles. I escaped into books a lot during my childhood and teen years, and I honestly believe that a book can be a friend, a comfort, an anchor. And maybe, just maybe, if I get back to work and plug away, I'll get that chance...


Kelly said...

Stephen King's nail-o-rejections always helps me. Have you read "On Writing"? His rejections part is fabulous.

I read about the Welsh suicides a month or so ago. A terrible story.

Keep on keeping on, Sarah! You can do it. (I'm right here with you.)

Sara said...

Naps, gym time, new drawings, reading...all good. So is reminding yourself of your mission. You already know what's important to you, and you're giving time to it. The world, slow as it can be sometimes, will have to catch up and pay attention. Or else! :)

Sam said...

Here's a coping mechanism that is also the cold hard truth:

We're playing a game in which the rules are not only stacked against us, but they are also unknown to us.
The complete rules are also unknown to editors, publishers and even the book-buyers. However, some people seem to have a feel for them.

So we might write what appears to be a good book, even a great book, but because of the rules of the game it's really a dud.

Some people seem to figure out the rules and slip in with a lousy book. And others are unaware of the rules and just happen to write a perfect book.

But the masters, like Sachar, have sussed out the rules well enough to play the game AND they write great books within those constraints.

So when you get rejected ... realize that you may have made a great shot, you just did it after the three-point buzzer went off or into the wrong basket or some such violation of the unknown, but sacrosanct rules.

tanita✿davis said...

Sam is right. Publishing has to be something you have unshakable belief in yourself about, otherwise you'll clue in: "Hey. I'm playing a game and I don't know the rules and they might change?!" -- and you'll get upset.

Don't quit. THat's the main thing.

Anonymous said...

"a book can be a friend, a comfort, an anchor"...

Ain't it the truth. Keep on truckin', Sarah. And pepper the tough days with naps, blogs and perspective. You're fighting the good fight to be sure...

Saints and Spinners said...

In a blog post I wrote but never published, I wrote about some of those coping mechanisms I used after two professional rejections of sorts that, to put it mildly, bruised my feelings. I ended up doing five loads of laundry, purging my wardrobe, scheduling a donations pickup of said purge, and digging in the garden. The idea was that I could do jobs that had visible results.

Yesterday, I booked a gig, and that made me happier, but I knew that I couldn't wait for that gig in order to get over my feelings of disappointment.

Those original blog posts really resonated with a lot of us! I'm grateful. The timing couldn't have been more perfect.

Big hugs.

tanita✿davis said...

I like the idea of doing jobs for which you can see progress and results. That's a great idea.

Also acknowledging/remembering that we ourselves are a work in progress helps. Looking back at old work and seeing how far we've come can be an encouragement... and a helpful realization that eventually we may look back at THIS mss. and be able to see the flaws more clearly.

It's easy to be angry about the rigged game, but giving up on yourself as a player is much, much worse than anything any editor or agent could do to you.