Monday, February 24, 2014

Highlighting Reader Responses

There is much kindness and wisdom and insight in the comment boxes of this blog (the lifeblood of who we are, really).  It occurred to me this morning as I was (once again!) perusing your responses to my post on FEELING BLANK that the conversation was one-sided--partly because Blogger doesn't let me respond to individual comments (am I missing something?), and partly because there were so many responses.

I still can't respond to them all, but I wanted to highlight a few so that you can all read them, and receive whatever gold nuggets they may offer.

From Krista Van Dolzer:

I really do believe that luck favors perseverance (and once you reach a certain level of technical proficiency, it all comes down to luck).

Krista, thank you for sharing your own story of perseverance.  I think that, somewhere deep inside us, we know that we must persevere--but when we actually hit that wall of I FEEL NOTHING, it surprises us somehow.  And that's the point at which many turn away.  Give up the dream.

Thank you for the clear reminder that our enthusiasm and sparkle dreams aren't what push us forward to the finish line.  It's raw perseverance.

From Kate Larkindale:

I think it's like falling in love. To begin with the whole writing/querying/publishing journey is new and exciting and you can't wait to get to the next step. But over time, the process becomes like a job and one you're comfortable with. The highs don't feel so high, and the lows don't feel so low. It's just something you keep doing because it's your life.

Kate, this is a perfect analogy.  I'll take it further and say that some writers bail out when the headiness of new romance fades.  When the journey starts to feel like a 40-year marriage, then probably we're in the right place.  (Assuming, of course, that, like a very long marriage, there's still a little passion in there somewhere!)

From Tom Alan Brosz:

Most difficult tasks will reach a point where the "dream" or enthusiasm isn't really there. That's when persistence and will take over, and you keep plugging even though it isn't all that much fun any more. 

Being an adult means that even when the last thing you feel like doing is your job, you buckle down and do it anyway. The goals haven't changed just because the mood has. That goes for writing, and many, many other things in life.

Tom, thanks for the reminder that this keep-going attitude applies to so much more than our writing.  Living a life of persistence and perseverance pays off in every area.

From Rick Rowe:

Write the stories that come from your heart.

Oh, yes.  Despite the level of angst or sorrow or complete blankness we might be slogging through, the actual writing is all about what's in our hearts.  The process and the publishing business and life in general may suck the life from us, but there is life in our stories--if only we remain true to them.  Thanks for this, Rick.

From June:

Blank is a defense mechanism. Like a child who grows up around screaming and can attend boot camp with a bored expression even as a 300lb drill sergant threatens to whip his @$$. Blank is your way of not allowing feelings through because you've been dissapointed by those feelings and hopes in the past. 

This is a valley, there will be more hills and moutains, but when in the valley, lower your expectations. You knew this was a long journey. You knew the risks involved. We've all heard the stories of people who didn't sell until their seventh book or the college student who sold her first book within months.

Now is the time to acknowledge the pity party, take a deep breath, and keep on trudging through. You have talent. Your writing, whether published or not, has an affect on your fans. Us. Those that read your words, learn from you, and take comfort that you're on this journey with us. I pray you are published some day soon so you can reach that initial dream. But keep dreaming. New dreams. New goals. New purpose. You make a difference, even when you feel like you've only left a blank.

June, your comment about the defense mechanism struck home.  I agree that "blank" is our brain's way of protecting us from too much pain.  It's amazing how dissecting the psychology of an emotional response helps us to feel more in control.  And less crazy.  Thanks for that, and for your words of encouragement.

(And I fixed your "your" typo.  Your comment about this being your first draft made me smile.)

From Becky:

I don't know if I'm resigned to the dream not happening or realistic that the dream is not a reflection of reality... But I'm not writing for the giddy high. I'm writing because I write.

This right here, Becky:  I'M WRITING BECAUSE I WRITE.  That's perfect.

From MargotG:

Feeling blank for a time allows the well to refill. Not just with energy, but with creativity, enthusiasm and joy. Give it some time.

Thank you, Margot, for the positive spin on blankness!  It does give the well a chance to refill.  Mine is already refilling!

From Kelsey Beach:

It may be that you're encountering the dream in a new way. It's like visiting a new place. You picture yourself there and plan all the things you'll do and see, but it's different when you're there. It becomes less fantasy and more practicality. "How do I get to the Eiffel Tower?" is a question of bus schedules, not scrimping pennies. 

 As you said, you're still writing and working; you're still riding the bus. And the Eiffel Tower is still there. It just might take a special sunset or a glass of Burgundy to kindle a slightly different dream.

Kelsey, I love this.  Such a beautiful, practical analogy of this whole dream thing.  This is genius.

And, finally, to "Anonymous", who gave me the pep talk about self-publishing--I hear you.  I really do.  While self-publishing is not something I'm pursuing right now (as I've stated before), it is definitely on my radar.  I like the whole "hybrid" concept, and I haven't written it off.  I appreciate your gentle and encouraging words.

There are so many others of you to whom I would like to respond, but this post is already quite long!  To all of you who offered words of encouragement and affirmation--thank you.  You know how it is when someone else says, "I know you'll make it!"  It's like you hang on those words for a while, because you can't believe them for yourself.  That's why it's so important for us to stay connected with each other, right?  We can all say, "I believe in you!" to each other as needed.

Right.  I feel better now, having properly responded to your outpouring of wisdom, experience, empathy, and kindness.

Let's go out there and rock this Monday, writers!


  1. i actually went back to that post a couple of times to read everyone's comments. There was so much good wisdom there

  2. Found this under help for blogger on the comments issue:

    Enabling threaded commenting

    If you have commenting enabled on your blog, then threaded commenting will work provided you have your blog feed set to "Full," and have chosen the “Embedded" option as opposed to “Full page” or “Popup window.” To change your commenting settings, just go to the Comments section under Settings | Posts and comments. The setting to change your blog feed can be found under Settings | Other.

    Maybe this will fix?

  3. Thank you so much not only for your original post but for sharing these wonderful comments. The setbacks are a little easier to deal with when you know others are going through them too.

  4. I like to sometimes go into the old contests, read the posting and try to guess what the comments will be and then, of course, read them for all their wisdom.

    It's very insightful and helpful for my own writing.

  5. And at least in my case, it's also raw stubbornness. Are stubbornness and perseverance the same thing? Some days, it feels like it:)

    Thanks for responding to my comment, Authoress. And like Stephsco mentioned, I'm pretty sure there IS a way to enable comment replies on Blogger (Natalie Whipple uses them on her blog), but I've never bothered to figure it out...

  6. Steph and Krista --

    Yeah, when I first changed to this brown template, I had comments set up to be right underneath the post instead of in a pop-up box. For some reason, this was causing problems for some people when they tried to leave comments, so I ended up reverting back to the pop-up. For all I know, they may have resolved whatever issue there was by now, but I don't trust Blogger all that much... ;)

    Probably I should give it a try, though, and see what happens. Thank you both!