Writing is a bizarre occupation. Some days it gushes, some days it trickles out, and some days, not even a drop.
As soon as I committed to blogging every Friday, I froze up. So typical of life.
After being all down and out last week, I finally snapped out of it and tried to get it together. I spent a good part of the week organizing and working on writing job crap, and the usual family/kid/activities/household duties. Needless to say, that did not spark any great blog inspiration. So all I’ve got today is to write about writing.
As I’ve said before, I write to help me sort out the chaos of life. Writing helps me understand what I’m doing. I like to analyze things and study why we do what we do. I know when I need to write it out because I will feel a physical and mental tension that tells me I’ve got to get it out.
So I find magazines and journals to send my writing to and write the dreaded cover letters, striving for just the right blend of professionality and personality, and hoping someone will actually receive it and read it. The first time I subjected my creative writing to a trained eye was years and years ago in a creative writing continuing ed class. The woman returned it to me covered in red ink. I mean, like it was bleeding. And nothing positive. Not one single encouraging comment. Not even one kind word. Just lots and lots of red. But I prevailed later in that class when I got up my courage to read something I wrote and my classmates loved it. They encouraged me and that was when I knew I could do this. To this day, I do not use red ink pens. Sometimes on Christmas cards, but I have a visceral reaction to that color of ink. I choose a friendlier green ink or pencil to edit, whether it’s my own work or someone else’s.
You have to have a thick skin to do this. After lots of red ink, along with a great deal of helpful criticism, lots of learning, and eating humble pie, I should have the skin of an 80 year-old beach bum.
You also have to be a wee bit stubborn. Fortunately, I’ve always had a hard head. I don’t like hearing “no” and I like a good challenge. The best way to get me to do something is tell me I can’t. If you want to write for a living, you’d better grow a pair.
And I guess I’m an optimist at heart. I’ve gotten plenty of rejections but I’ve gotten acceptances, too. I just choose to focus on the latter. My first article I had published was a crazy exciting high. You have to have the lows along with the highs…it keeps you balanced. The truth is that your writing might not gel with some editors; you have to find the right ones who get you. What you write must be a good match for who you’re writing for.
It doesn’t mean that it’s fun to get rejected. It’s not fun to hear “it’s just not right for us.” The worst I got was something like “you should read our magazine to see what kind of content we accept.” I thought that was rude. I had read it. Grrrr… But you just pick yourself up, find inspiration where you can, and find someone else to send it to.
Speaking of inspiration, I was thrilled to hear today that Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize today. Her book, I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World is incredible. I highly recommend it and thank goodness there are people in the world like her. I can’t imagine being that young and that brave. We can all learn a great deal from her.
Her acceptance speech was quite lovely, as well.
And on that note, may you all have an inspiring weekend!
Take care of yourselves and inspire each other,