Apparently my "It's Not About the Odds" post really struck a chord with many of you, and I am absolutely thrilled that it did. Obviously I don't write this blog just for the fun of it, I do my best to share what I've learned in my two industries and try to put things in perspective for some. So it does mean a lot to me that you came by to let me know your thoughts, and that many of you will be sharing in my resolution this year (which I can tell you has already been tested several times over this year for me).
But the biggest thing I noticed was a sense of gratitude at the positivity in my post, and I wanted to touch on that today.
I have to tell you all, I'm not a person who's all sunshine and rainbows. I'm no Pollyanna. I can get quite down on myself just like the next person. And this industry is tough, both industries (acting and writing) are tough. From the outside I can understand how it can appear that I have it made, but trust me, I am facing the struggle as much as any of you (maybe not the same struggle, but still one that is equally frustrating and demoralising). And I wallow. And I mope. And I cry.
But here's the thing. It isn't like anyone is forcing us to take this path. Nor is it like this path is particularly treacherous compared with other certain career choices out there. I'm not trying to minimise our pain, but we don't have to go through this if we don't want to. We chose to be authors, actors, and as much as we can insist that it's more of a calling and less of a choice (something I've always felt personally), we don't need to go through all this if we really don't want to.
So the thing is . . . we do want to. Sure we don't want to feel sad in doing it, but we feel it's worth it for the ultimate goal (whatever yours may be). What's more we have enough to struggle with, the actual act of writing, the networking, the rejections, we don't need to add more to that list. And since that is the case, may I offer the following advice:
- don't read articles about the demise of publishing. First of all, publishing isn't going anywhere, and secondly, exactly what do you plan on doing with that information anyway?
- don't pay attention to the numbers (as I've already addressed)
- don't compare your path to success to anyone else's (as, again, I've already mentioned)
- Twitter wisely. By which I mean, if you find you are following someone that you constantly feel jealous of, or if you find you are following someone who only wants to post links to articles about how crappy the writing world is these days, stop following them. Follow people who inspire you, follow people you care about, you have the choice. And in turn try to tweet things that others will find positive. Don't make Twitter your personal soapbox. Try to spread the cheer, not the pain.
- to that end, read blogs wisely. Choose the industry blogs that speak to you. I like a good sarcastic rant every once in a while, so I like The Rejectionist, but I also like (as you can tell from this post) positive messages, and so really enjoy agent Kristin Nelson.
- change your way of thinking. Okay, that's a big task. But what I mean is, there tends to be the positive way of looking at something, and the negative (glass half full thing). I've blogged in the past about Celebrity Books for example. Many people hate that they exist, but instead of looking at them as if they are taking away contracts from "real" authors (which they don't, they are a totally separate market), look at them as earning tons of money for publishers so that the publishers can then take a risk on a new untested author. Also . . . Instead of looking at all the "crap" that's been published, look at all the interesting original stuff that's out there too: The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures etc. Also realise that what you might consider crap, someone else considers wonderful. And it's likely that there's someone out there who considers your taste to be less than stellar.
- relish the small successes. Sure we all want to be published, and big goals are always very important. But relish achieving a word count you set for yourself in a day. Relish creating a really awesome description. Relish sending out two more queries. Relish making a new friend. Eating some good food. Look back at your day when lying in bed and list all the good things that happened.
- don't get upset with yourself for getting upset. This is something I post about often. Look, rejection sucks. That's all there is to it. But you don't want to add to the sucky-ness of the moment by being angry at yourself for feeling bad. Feel what you feel. Let it pass through you. Then you can move on. Don't waste energy on feeling that you shouldn't be feeling a certain way.
Last but not least -
- give yourself permission to fail. And don't be scared of it. Especially when it comes to your writing. So many people ask if they are allowed to do something in writing, and my answer is always, "Try, see, what's the worst that could happen?" It goes hand in hand with playing. The freer you feel to just see what happens, the more exciting the discoveries will be. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, these fears hold us back more than anything else I know.
We don't have to sit around grinning like crazy all the time in order to be positive. And I'm not saying it's easy either. Nor am I saying that we all must follow every step of my advice and never just want to bang our heads against the wall.
I'm just saying that we do have some control in a situation where we have very little. We depend on so many other people supposedly for our happiness - agents, editors, reviewers, readers. But we can also depend on ourselves. We can focus on the writing. We can choose what information we allow into our lives.
We can also just step back, take a deep breath, and stop for a second. This world might seem so fast paced, but we can choose whatever speed we want really.
Anyway, some thoughts. I hope they were helpful. I know I'll be checking this post every once in a while to remind myself of all of it. Trust me, out of everyone, I really need to practice what I preach.