Friday, May 8, 2009

Ahhh, did you miss me?

As Staind would say, "It's Been Awhile . . ."

I wish I could say I've been tracking man-eating piranhas in the Amazon or ghost hunting in Gettysburg or even sipping wine while touring the ruins of Pompeii, but I can't. The only thing with teeth I've been tracking are my three children; the only ghosts I've been chasing exist in my plots; and the only ruins I sip wine in these days are the rooms of my sadly unkempt house.

My blog-absence is due in part to the business of life, but also I've been on a bit of a roller coaster with my writing of late. Writing is both exhilarating and depressing for me. I love the creative part of it: getting so involved with my characters that they are chatting with me while I make dinner or do the laundry, bugging me in my dreams, chastising me when I've left them stuck in a scene for too long. I love the revision process too: getting feedback from my peers, ripping apart my plots, adding layers to my characters, hacking away at unnecessary words and events. But the part that comes next - sending my work OUT THERE- can be so scary that sometimes I forget what I love about writing and consider quitting.

Writing is a personal thing. Like a child, even though you know your book is its own thing, you can't help but take its failures and accomplishments personally. For this reason, it is sometimes very difficult to separate yourself from it and see that the person rejecting it is not rejecting you. Through the years, I have mastered that ability. I have a thick skin. I can take criticism and process it, find the value in it and apply it to my writing. Yet still, rejection is rejection, and after enough of it, you can't help but question your abilities.

I have never been very confidant. I guess if you wanted to psycho-analyze me, you could say it stems from my visual impairment and the inability to do things most people take for granted - like driving. I so often feel like a failure as a mom because I can't drive my kids to and from school, to and from practice and games and birthday parties like every other mother. Instead, I have to coordinate cabs or buses or walking routes or rides with other moms. Sure, people in places like New York do that all the time, but here, everyone drives. So when I show up at flag football carrying a car seat in the pouring rain, I get weird looks from the rest of the parents while they sit in their dry cars. I tell you this not for sympathy - I hate the sympathy - but to show you how idiotic my mind is. Who cares if I show up two hours early for a baseball game because of the shortened Sunday bus schedule? I honestly don't mind the walking or the getting there early (well my kids do I guess) but I still feel like a failure because I'm not like everyone else.

This feeling often carries over into my writing. I see so many others successfully making it in the published world and I think: what is wrong with me? Am I kidding myself? Am I that idiotic mom standing in the rain while everyone else looks on and thinks I have no clue?

The answer is no. Or should be no. I should be saying who cares? Who cares what one person thinks about my writing? Writing is subjective; one man's best seller is another man's stinkbomb - look at the varying opinions among friends in a book club. But even though I know this, every once in a while, rejection threatens to bring me down. How can it not? We all need reassurance that we are okay. We all want someone to tell us we're capable. We're social, emotional creatures, right?

So, how does a writer keep that rejection-downer at bay?
Other writers.
Yes family can rub your ego, but only another writer who has been there, felt that, can truly empathize. I have a great group of writer friends who have all pulled me up by my boot straps (well, flip-flops) the past month or so, brushed off the rejection, put the pen in my hand and shoved me back into the game. I thank you all for that.

In fact, since I may not have much brain matter left when I do finally get published, here's a shout out to all of you on my triage team: Jen, Libby, Su, Patty, Jacqui, Todd, Diane, Katena, Sharon, Alicia, Viki, Steph, Kristin, LInda, and Renee. Thanks for being there always!

Okay, enough of the soap opera. I'm back and I promise not to let so long go between blogs!

9 comments:

Jacqui said...

Don't quit. Seriously. And I think all parents sometimes feel like the one standing in the rain with the carseat. As I always say, sometimes you are the mom who remembers snack; sometimes your kids are the starving vultures begging for other people's goldfish.

Elizabeth Mosier said...

You go, girl! Glad to be part of your triage team!
Anyone who has the fortitude to negotiate public transit and stand in the rain at a game to be there for her children absolutely has what it takes to be a writer!

Diane T said...

Hang in there. I know the submissions process sucks, and if you wanted to go into marketing you would have studied in it school, but it's going to happen for you some day. Some day soon, let's hope.

And have a happy mother's day ... I agree with Jacqui, we all have our days when we feel like pathetic loser-moms, but then we just need to look at how cool our kids are and realize we rock!

Laura Ellen said...

Thanks Libby, Jacqui and Diane - it is so awesome to have a cheering section! And yes Diane, we do rock as mom's, don't we? Our kids are VERY cool, and so are the kids we create in our books! If only the publishing god would realize that too and shine down upon us . . .

Alicia said...

I have missed you. *sniffles*

I have the same love/hate relationship with writing, but your talent outweighs mine 10 to 1. Seriously. If you quit writing, I think the sun would fall out of the sky. It would for me at least.

And you will get published. The fact that you haven't is, quite frankly, an injustice to the book world (in my humble opinion, of course).

Keep it up, and I can't wait to read your ghost story! I'm sure it's fabulously superb.

Kristin said...

What a heartfelt, truthful post. Thanks so much for sharing. Your writing is honest and brave - just like you!

Laura Ellen said...

Alicia you are such an ego-boost, must be all those mommy hormones raging through you right now!

And Kristin, you're such an awesome friend! Hugs to you!

Angela said...

Hey Laura,
You sound like you have a great critique group --- buckle down those flip flops and get to work.

Seriously if you need a fresh pair of eyes for your YA just call (email).

Hang in there as you change those conversations into perfect sentences.

I know you can do it!

Laura Ellen said...

Thanks Angela - I may take you up on that. A fresh pair of eyes is always a good thing!