Thursday, August 7, 2008

It's Time To Learn How Not To Take Myself So Seriously

If you all have read any of my previous blogs, you know I had a huge schedule change this summer at the bank which really impacted my writing time. Then as life happens to all of us, there has been one family crisis after another.

But I thought I was dealing OKAY with all the angst until this triple whammy; I didn’t advance to the semi’s in any of the writing contests I’d entered.

I tearfully re-read the contest advancement lists, to be certain I hadn’t missed my name, then sat my office and wondered why I so miserable. Sure not winning is hard to take, I’m a competitive girl, but it’s happened before and I didn’t feel this bad.

So I sat and I pondered, much like the Grinch wondering why the Who’s in Whoville still sang after their Christmas was taken away until I realized I wasn’t loving any part of the process I professed to love so much. None of it, the rewriting, the querying, the fun of a new story. It all seemed...POINTLESS.

I grimaced and shed a tear or two, then sat on the patio with my husband and told him I needed a change.

After he got over his shock, he told me to do whatever it is that I wanted, but reminded me that I love writing, I’m good at my craft, and I needed to take the time to find that passion again and above all, not to take it all so seriously. (WHOA, this from an Attorney?)

Of course he’s right. For the last umpteen years I’ve been taking this career, this JOB so seriously that every high was breathtaking and every low was heartbreaking. I dreamt of an Oscar or an Emmy, I even had my dress designed in my head.

And then it dawned on me, I was looking at "reward" as success, doing well in a contest, getting that Oscar, because frankly we’ll all taught that the golden ring is the prize. And I was a failure because I hadn’t "won" whichever "prize" I was going for. I forgotten what I’d learned when I started this journey, that every little step up the ladder is success. Every page written and rewritten is success. That a well written line is a joy.

I’d preached and taught everyone else to take their writing seriously, YET enjoy the process...and I’d forgotten to do that very thing.

I’ve always felt guilty when I was doing something else on my rigidly scheduled writing time, and we all know guilt isn’t a good place to write from. I was creating a pressure cooker inside me.

So, I’m not giving up this dream, that was never an option and I know it will take me time to unlearn habits. And then, what will my new habits be? I don’t know yet. Heck, will there even be a habit? Probably, as we are creatures of the word. But I know I can do this if I just don’t take it all so seriously...even the change.

Let the process begin.

Oh, and I'll be out of touch for awhile. I'll check in when I can.


Just_Me said...

I think I'll have to print this and pin it to my study wall. I love deadlines because they keep me on track, but if I'm delayed I feel horrible. Every round of edits starts to feel like a failure instead of a step forward. This is very good, and timely, advice. :o)

magolla said...

Hi, Leslie Ann!
I've been there and am finally getting out of the dumps. It all started around mid-March--I 'pretended' to write through April and May. Thank goodness, I have my daughter around all summer, forcing me to take a sabbatical (I just can't write anything new with the TV on in the background or getting interrupted every 10-12 minutes). But I can edit, write short synopses, judge contests and read, read, read. It is the reading that is really filling up the emptiness I was feeling. I'm engergized and excited about school starting in a week. The only problem I have it to figure out which of four manuscripts to start working on!
Good luck and give yourself some time to refill the well.

Audra Harders said...

Leslie, my girl, this epiphany, coming from you, is amazing. You've always been a rock in your writing and I'm the one who has whined to you at times that I needed to take a mental vacation from writing because it was driving me nuts/I was doing nothing but staring at a blank screen/my creativity disappeared. You've always been able to write through any crisis, so I'm sitting in my chair, stunned at the words you've posted. . .

. . .and rejoicing! I'm glad you're taking this flat tire on your writing highway for what it is--a break in the action. I've reassessed my journey more than once and found each time I only benefitted from the process.

You've had some big issues pop up over the past months, babycakes. Sit back and relax and don't worry about the pages waiting to be written.

They'll wait.

They always do : )

And after you've recharged, revived and resumed, I think you'll be happy with the results : )

Keep your chin up, kiddo. You ARE a great writer : )


Donnell said...

LA, please give your wonderful husband a high five for me. I'm proud of you and your eureka moment. Every line, every paragraph that you write YOU create a world. Have you ever looked back on something you've written and thought, I wrote that? If you haven't, go back. Look at something you wrote as a newby writer and then take out something you've written in your evolution. I think you'll see growth, but most importantly when you look back on that first stuff, remember the passion. Breathe it in and let it inspire you. In this business where subjectivity is a fire-eating dragon, we have only one option -- to keep our eye on why we write in the first place. Congratulations on not taking yourself too seriously; you and your very wise husband -- are my heroes.

jwhit said...

Love the post, Leslie Ann. Sameness, as well as focussing on the ends rather than enjoying the trip, can also set me up for 'walking away'. We're humans and need newness to keep life stimulating, grab our attention, our curiosity. So after you take your sabbatical, it may be worth thinking about the original joy you felt with the progress you made in the beginning, when all was fresh and new. Consider a different writing corner: genre, length, market. Learn a new writing skill that may also enhance your creativity in your main game, like a poem or song lyrics for one of your characters if you haven't done that type of writing recently. Or pick up the brushes and illustrate again [picked that up from your profile - 4 years old, eh?]

One of the beauties of writing is that it is not just one thing, but a whole basket of creation that tells the world who you are and who it is in the reflection of your words.

Your mojo will wait on you. It's still there.

Leslie Ann said...

Wow, "just me," what a compliment! I'll do an update someday when I think I'm at a spot, good or bad, that is a result of not taking myself so seriously.
Thanks for reading the post.

Leslie Ann said...

Hi Margaret,
Thanks for reading my post. Seriously, this is the first time ever, I've doubted myself so intensely, heck for sure I've been in the doldrums before, so I guess we'll see how this new approach works. I just returned from vacation, not yet ready to write, but did have some fun "what if" discussions with my husband. Stay tuned :)

Leslie Ann said...

Audra, dearheart.
You are my rock, or maybe we're rocks leaning on each other? :)

Got back from Vacay yesterday nite, and still don't feel the urge to type, other than responses to the posts.

But as you know, I'm not used to letting myself give into lack of urge..."I gotta write" was my old mantra.

I still feel horribly conflicted, for if one doesn't take the responsibility to sit one's bum in the chair, the words won't get down on the page. do I do this?

But as I'm still on vacay...I guess I'll worry about that come Monday. Hmm, "worry" isn't supposed to be in my new approach. See, this is hard.

Love you always,

Leslie Ann said...

Hi D,
Yes, he's a great guy. Even on vacy, playing with some great "what if's" he was patient when I was a bit bitchy, telling him he didn't understand my "what if" process.

Just got to reinvent me. Easy? It'll be hard, but I've already started trying not to be such a micro manager of myself, my DH and things I can't control!

Leslie Ann said...

Hi. Yup, this ain't gonna be easy.
In my response to Audra, I mentioned my conflict with the idea that one must sit in the chair and work if one is going to produce work...

See, produce is an issue,but I know if I don't produce, I won't sell...there you have it again. AARRGGHH. Like I said, this ain't gonna be easy. Stay tuned :)

Donnell said...

LA, I'm ready and waiting when you have that "what if" moment that truly inspires you. I don't believe for a moment that your muse has abandoned you. It's too much a part of you to disappear completely. I hope you enjoyed your vacation Hugs.

Leslie Ann said...

D! You're right my muse hasn't abandoned me, it's more like me not letting her run free. I've had her on a leash. I'm ready too for her to realize she's free...or at least we're working on setting her free and me at the same time.