A Little Push

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

29. Encourage other writers to keep going

I suspect that it is an inevitable truth that at some point (and possibly multiple, regularly occurring points) every writer feels like giving up. Whether you’re an amateur working on your first real manuscript or a published professional having issues in editing, writers are a naturally self-depreciating breed. As my rage comic indicated, we have a tendency to flow through repeating stages of “I’m so awesome!” and “I’m such a hack!” It is a tendency we share with artists, musicians, and other creative peoples who put a little piece of their own selves into their work.

Some of this constant shift in attitude can be attributed to physiology (moods, hormones, emotional state due to outside forces, etc), but much of it is likely due to the lifestyle of a writer and the inability of people in general to fairly, and without bias, judge themselves.

The lifestyle may break may would-be writers because they simply can’t (or feel that they can’t) handle it. The life of a writer may seem simple and carefree to many, but in reality it can be very stressful and difficult. Deadlines may lead to anxiety and burnout. Disagreements with editors and agents can cause frustration and a feeling of losing creative control. Rejections from published and poor critiques/reviews can create doubt, depression, and the belief that you’ll never be successful. It’s a mentally and emotionally exhausting situation to volunteer for.

And then there’s that bit about being unable to judge ourselves. As humans, we are notorious for this, not just involving creative processes, but in every aspect of our lives. One only needs to observe drivers on the highway to understand the concept. Everyone on the road believes that they are an excellent driver, while everyone else is a dangerous SOB who needs to be arrested. It’s the same with writers, except that in our case it works at both ends of the spectrum. Either you think you rock (even if you don’t) while everyone else is a hack, or else everyone else is amazing while you’re a miserable failure (even if you aren’t).

So, in conclusion, being a writer is wrought with emotional distress, time management impossibilities, peer-to-peer conflict, pain of rejection, and psychological issues, and on top of all that you might never become successful enough to make a living out of it.

And here I am, supposedly about to tell you to keep going. Hmm…

Here’s the thing…have you ever heard the phrase that nothing worth doing is easy? While it may not be a logical descriptor for every person in every situation, it still rings true a good deal of the time. Do you think the athletes who go to the Olympics just breeze through the events without any training? Do you think young army recruits just walk through the door and all of a sudden they’re a high-ranking officer? Hell, do you think pregnant women just have a squat and a grunt and a beautiful, perfectly healthy baby just pops out?

If you really care about something – genuinely want it with all your heart, then you’ll do what you have to do and endure what you have to endure to make that dream a reality. Olympians know that they’re going to have to push their bodies to the limit, but they crave that gold, so they move through it. Privates-in-training know they’re going to be trained hard and disparaged at every turn, but they want to serve, so they deal with it. And women know damn well that childbirth is like to be a painful, miserable event that makes them feel like they’re going to die, but they want to bring a life into the world so they damn well manage it.

So if you really want to be a writer, write. Put your heart and soul into it and deal with whatever you have to deal with as a result, because in the end that’s the only true way to get what you want. You have to be willing to do whatever is necessary, end of discussion. If you aren’t willing, well…I guess you didn’t really want it very much in the first place, did you?

Ten Years

I was poking around Facebook one day, not doing anything in particular, when I came across a handful of my classmates from high school talking about reunions. They were discussing what was to be done for our 10-year reunion, and whether anyone wanted to take responsibility for it (around here it’s the graduate’s responsibility to organize a reunion if they want one). A few weeks later I got an invite to a Facebook ‘group’ whose purpose is planning the reunion and spreading the word.

I have to admit, I’m still working out just what that means in my head. I’ve been out of high school for ten years. Where did that time go?

If you had asked me ten years ago, upon graduation from high school, where I saw myself in ten years, my answer would have been definite. I would have said I’d be working with computers (don’t you love it when people give that broad spectrum?), and that I’d be married to my high school sweetheart, Frankie. At that point in my life those were the only two things on my mind: what I was going to do for work, and my boyfriend. And really, how much else is usually on the mind of an 18-year-old?

Instead, in the past ten years I:

  • applied for one college program,
  • ended up in a different one after the first one was cancelled,
  • suffered heartbreak at the hands of the aforementioned high school sweetheart,
  • had my heart mended by someone I never would have expected,
  • experienced living away from home, both with friends and alone with my new boyfriend,
  • experienced what it’s like to have to scrape pennies together to buy groceries,
  • dealt with what it feels like to sincerely doubt your career path after wasting a hell-ton of money,
  • somehow graduated from college,
  • suffered at a call center for several long months while I searched for a job that utilized my four years worth of degree,
  • celebrated like a crazy person when I finally got the job at the paper mill,
  • moved 90 minutes away from home, without my boyfriend, who was still finishing his college program,
  • dealt with the ins and outs of the paper mill and realized that even though I had a degree I knew positively jack sh*t,
  • celebrated when my boyfriend was finally able to move back in with me,
  • celebrated even harder when he too got a job at the paper mill,
  • got engaged,
  • bought my first (financed) car,
  • got married in a beautiful outdoor wedding,
  • bought a house after months of looking at the worst places ever and finally finding a jewel in the rough,
  • got pregnant and enjoyed all that that entails,
  • gave birth to my beautiful baby girl and never felt happier,
  • returned to work just in time to be told that the paper mill was shutting down indefinitely,
  • survived through months of nonsense over the purchase of the paper mill,
  • watched my husband get on a plane and fly out west for work to keep supporting us and our daughter

The moral of the story, I guess, is that a lot can happen in ten years, and chances are there’s going to be a lot of ups and downs that you never saw coming. And before you know it you’re looking back, wondering where the time went, and listening to people you haven’t seen in ten years making plans to get together and have drinks and catch up.

Ten years. Have I stressed that enough?

17 Months

Today my daughter is exactly 17 months old. Soon she’ll be a year and a half, and then before I can blink she’ll be turning 2 years old. Time flies mercilessly by, and in the time I’ve had with her so far, my little princess has never ceased to amaze me.

Honestly, this kid could be the poster child for how you can never know what to expect.

I, like many other women, read a lot while I was pregnant. I read everything I could find about those first few years of dealing with a child. And while some of it was definitely useful information, quite a lot of it wasn’t helpful in the least because my daughter, like all babies, is unique. Strange, even.

My daughter, for example, never even noticed the switch from breast milk to formula and then to cow’s milk. I had been prepared for a struggle. I read so many horror stories about women whose breast milk had begun to dry up while their child stubbornly refused to drink anything else. Not my daughter. Once we got past the hurdle of getting her to drink from a bottle she didn’t give a damn what was in it.

She also has strange habits that I’ve never seen in a child her age, like her ceaseless love for her crib. Every morning when she wakes I have to hang out with her in her room and wait for her to decide that it’s time to come out of the crib. If I try to pick her up before she’s ready, I’m setting the tone for the day and it’s not a good one! The kid just loves her bed.

She shoos away cookies in favor of crackers. She adores plain cooked green beans. I’ve been trying since Easter, but she won’t let a marshmallow anywhere near her mouth.

And the reason I’m writing this post, the newest quirk that put the idea in my head, is that she has recently decided she simply doesn’t want her bedtime bottle anymore. No weaning for this kid: she’s gone cold turkey. Honestly, how many kids do that? Don’t you usually have to deal with months of crying and arguing to work a kid off their nighttime bottle?

Daughter, dear, you’re an odd one sometimes, but that’s why we love you. 17 months and counting…keep surprising me!

30 Days of Truth – Day 28

What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?

Who wrote this question? It sounds like it’s being aimed at high school students taking a sex-ed course.

As I have been pregnant, the point of this question is somewhat defeated, so I’m going to answer it as though I’m asking my 16-year-old self:

At first, I’d probably just panic. In fact I’d probably curl up into a ball and go catatonic for a while. I wouldn’t know how to tell anyone, and in the end I’d probably go to my best friend first, because she was always good for that kind of thing. 🙂 When I finally got up the courage I’d tell the father. And regardless of what his opinion on the situation was, I’d have the baby. I’m a huge proponent of the fact that a woman has the right to decide what happens to her own body and life, but at the same time I personally don’t agree with abortions. I don’t think I could ever have one, no matter what the situation. So I’d have the baby.

Are we good? Can we leave this question behind now and never look back? Thanks.

30 Days of Truth – Day 16

Someone or something you definitely could live without.


Okay, okay, but seriously…I’m not sure if this is supposed to be something that you wish you didn’t have to deal with, or something that you wouldn’t miss if it was gone. I’m going to go with the latter and say alcohol.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my booze. I love going to parties with friends and getting my drink on. But if I had to give something up permanently, it wouldn’t hurt me too badly to give up alcohol. Being pregnant (and breastfeeding afterward) made me realize how unimportant alcohol is to me. There’s nothing quite like a nice cold drink, but it’s not something I’m going to pine after if I lose it.