It used to be really puzzling to me how people could keep working on a story version after version, headache after headache, rejection after rejection — because for the longest time, I never did that. In the early writing days, I never actually tried to make anything better. I didn’t see the point. Story crap? Oh well, on to the next one!
As a result of this though, I never really formed a strong attachment to anything I wrote. I’d see people getting attached to their stories, and I’d think it was ludicrous. As the years went on though, I started to understand. They keep working to make their stories better because they want to. It’s because they have hope that if they work hard enough, the story will be good. It might even be great.
And I realized…I didn’t have that hope. On my earlier projects, I was convinced there was nothing I could do to make them publishable, either because I didn’t have the skills, or I didn’t know what I was doing, or whatever. But I was really short changing myself. I didn’t learn how to edit until I was in college — after I had been writing novels for a good 7 years!
Oh, the lessons I could have learned in those years!
When I learned to edit, and saw that I actually could make my stories better, I started to have hope. Hope that I could be great one day! Hope that I could go into a bookstore, ANY bookstore, and see my book on a new release display for anyone passing by to see. Then I’d go on an ice cream date and with my good friend Johnny Depp to celebrate.
Oh, the lofty, pie-in-the-sky dreams I had! ^_^
So, maybe someone remembers a little story entitled HOW DEEP IS MY DARKNESS (HDIMD): a paranormalish thingie I wrote last fall that I actually really, really like. At the time I finished it, I think I said something like (and I paraphrase because I’m too lazy to look), “Blah, blah, blah, not sure what to do with it so it’s just going to sit on my computer.”
Well…I wasn’t being entirely honest. Lol!
No, after everything I went through with Chains of Destiny last year (cliff notes version: 100+ total form rejections on multiple queries and multiple versions), well, honestly, I was beaten. I became super duper SUPER depressed about my writing. So depressed, I wasn’t even happy about HDIMD when I finished. And worst of all, I had lost any and all hope that I had in myself, not only as a writer in general, but in my future as a writer as well. It was like, “Oh boy, another thing for people to crap on.” So after half-assing it through a few submissions, I gave up. Just like that. No fight, no emotion. I felt nothing. I didn’t even care.
And hope is important. Because it’s really REALLY hard to keep going without it. Sometimes when I’m struggling with this lack of hope and fighting to get it back, those 100+ Chains of Destiny rejections climb on top of the other 100+ rejections in my arsenal, and they weigh on me. They tell me it’s not worth it. They say, “What is the matter with you? You really think if you keep trying it’s going to make a difference? Look at all those NOs. Nobody gives a crap about you.”
And I keep thinking about it. And then the OCD flares up and I get in these moods where I think if I obsess over it enough, it’ll somehow change what happened, and I’ll have hope again and be able to write without attacking every single word that I type. Which is ridiculous, but try telling my brain that when it’s on the rampage.
It’s like, what kind of person keeps writing after submitting 6 stories and getting absolutely nowhere? And towards the end of the year, I’m quitting my job for six months so I can stay home and write full time.
And all the while hope dangles over my head and shrugs, “I’m just not going to fall on you, you know.”
It wants me to fight for it. But don’t I have to first have hope that the fight will be worth it?
So how do I get the hope to fight? I’m not just quitting my job, after all, to write. I’m quitting because I need an extended break, and this is the only way I’m going to get it. I’m not working on this story because I have hope for it, I’m working on it because I want to. I’m not going to send it out when I’m done because I have hope, I’m going to send it out because I won’t be able to live with myself if I don’t keep trying.
And maybe that’s more important than having hope right now…having a reason. any reason at all, to keep going. And maybe that’s how I’ll get it back. Maybe that’s how I’ll fight for it.