My last NAF post (Envy), was about the despair we writers can feel when we think we’re not good enough. Some of the comments indicated another kind of envy and despair—that which goes with seeing the unfairness of the publishing industry. I’m not here today to continue that discussion, though, but to point back to the end of my post. Yes, I despair sometimes, but I don’t let it hold me down. I bounce back.
That’s not always easy, though is it?
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “sinking into depression.” This implies a slow decline, slipping bit by bit until we feel trapped, like we’re stuck in the bottom of a well. The walls of that well are high and hard to climb.
My moments of despair come suddenly, and when they do I tend not to sink slowly. Instead, I dive. Straight to the bottom of the well. On purpose.
Why do I do that?
Here’s where I start mixing analogies. That jump into the well may be hard and fast, but it’s short-lived because I use the force of the jump to bounce back—the way a rubber band snaps back when it’s been pulled and let go. Hm…I guess instead of diving into the well, you could say I bungee jump into it.
The point is, I force myself to hit bottom. It hurts. May even break a few bones. But I get it all over with in one mighty crash, and then come barreling out of the well, ready to take on life again.
Let me illustrate. I told you all some weeks ago that I’m a cancer survivor. (Still surprised no one called me on the comment I made about hating that term.) When I got the news I did the usual crying/praying/etc, but I also sat myself in front of the TV with about half a birthday cake (my daughter had just turned two, and there was lots of leftover) and ate until I nearly puked. I literally forced the cake down, which in turn forced me right into that well. I hit the bottom, hard and fast. But the next day, sproooooiiiing! I was back on my feet and ready to fight.
Now, am I telling you all to run out and thrust yourself into depression every time something hard knocks you down? No, of course not. Emotional bungee jumping is not for everyone. You have to deal with things the way that works for you.
This works for me, though, and I don’t think I’d have made it this far as a writer if I didn’t handle things this way. I get a critique and immediately curl into a ball of defensiveness. How dare they call my baby ugly! There’s nothing wrong with this…or that. Hah! Grumble, grumble, moan, groan. Shove all the anger to the surface as I dive.
And then the next day, sproing. I pack up the bungee cord and start on the edits. Yes, well, that sentence is a little awkward isn’t it? And what was I thinking when I wrote this? Chop, chop, kill my darlings.
There still seems to always be a well somewhere along the path in front of me, of course. I think with writing that’s inevitable. But with each jump, my legs grow stronger, and the well feels shallower.