July 17, 2015

Writers Are a Dime a Dozen. Here’s My Secret Weapon.

I’ve been feeling a bit low these past couple of days. It’s a funk I get into every now and then when things aren’t going how I thought they would. Expectations can be deadly.

For starters a flash fiction piece I entered in a writing competition didn’t make it into the top ten and so won’t appear in the upcoming prize winner print anthology. They even listed a few “close but no cigar” shout-outs on the results page and my name wasn’t among those either. The one saving grace came in the rejection letter that said they would encourage me to submit my contest piece for one of their regular issues. So, that’s definitely something, and I definitely will be submitting to them again.

But it still smarts, and to top it off I read the winning entries and they were really good. Suspenseful, intriguing, unique. I couldn’t even complain that the chosen writers were hacks, because they so obviously were not.

Then I checked the results of another competition and found out my entry wasn’t selected. Again.

What’s more, the agent that has been so helpful and gave me hope about my manuscript is MIA. Even the content editor that I am paying to read my book hasn’t contacted me yet. He estimated he would be done with his critique by the 15th. The wheels are turning now. They always seem to lock onto the worst case scenario. Is the book so bad that it is taking him an extra long time to edit it? Am I a crappy writer?

Yeah. That last sentence pretty much sums up my train of thought the last couple of days. A negative, self-pity-partying, grouchy train.

I mentioned my frustration to the Hubs. His response was “well, you know, 98% of the population can write. You’ve picked a really competitive field. It’s not like engineering. Most people don’t know how to do engineering.”

It could have been my mood, and I know he meant well, but this odd bit of motivation didn’t really help me feel better (Hubs, if you’re reading this, sorry for calling you out, but, um, try some different advice next time). On a basic level he is right of course, but I maintain there is a big difference between someone scrawling out a grocery list and someone pouring their heart and soul into a novel. Also, apparently being an engineer is where it’s at.

But his comment did get me thinking. There are thousands upon thousands of aspiring authors out there. Once you meet a certain threshold of competence, what sets you apart from the pack? This new train of thought had me poised for another steep descent without breaks into an even deeper pit of despair as I contemplated all the talented hopefuls out there peddling their life’s work day in and day out just like me. But as I lay in an unproductive heap, wrapping myself in a soggy blanket of wallowing and self-doubt, I had a little flash of insight.

I’ve never been the best or the smartest, but that’s okay because I’ve always been the most determined, the most tenacious.

That perseverance has seen me through a lot. It’s what sets me apart and what gives me an advantage. It’s trite, but if I really want something I don’t take no for an answer. I work hard. I find a way.

With that in mind my train of thought started to slowly lug its way out of the gloomy abyss, climbing bit-by-dogged-bit towards positivity and productivity.

I may not be the best. But I am determined.

I am determined to not let failure crush me.

I am determined to not let set-backs derail me.

I am determined to work hard.

I am determined to continue learning and growing.

I am determined to keep writing.

Writers may be a dime a dozen, but I’ve got a secret weapon.

I’ve got a lot of fucking grit.


Image credit: John Kovacich on Public Domain Pictures

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