Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Fricassee

Finally I get to say this:   HAPPY SPRING!

Has it been a long haul, or what? And it's still not really spring.  Not warm enough to make my toes happy (though I've broken out my Birkies, anyway--because BIRKIES).

And, alas, speaking of toes--I've been ignoring my unhappy left big toe for too many months, and this morning I'm sitting here with ice on it.  Whatever's wrong with it is exacerbated by dancing, so I've got morning-after toe joint pain (again).

I'm thinking it's really good that writing isn't physically dangerous.  If dancing were my career instead of my hobby, I'd be in a scary place.  I mean, can you imagine pulling a muscle in your hand, or breaking your thumb, or falling off your desk chair?  (Well, okay, all those things could happen. But it's not like we're in imminent danger.)

The closest thing to a real problem is carpal tunnel syndrome (which I've struggled with in the past).  But, truly, if you're sitting right/using your arms correctly AND you have proper spine alignment, you're going to be a lot safer in this area.

Anyway.  No boo-hooing from this slightly maimed ballerina.  Just a bit of a downer.  (Because I don't want to go to the doctor.  And I just want to dance and have happy feet.)

So here's a question for you:  What does cripple you in your writing?  What do you have to emotionally ice in order to get the swelling down?

Do you stumble when you receive a rejection?  Or too many rejections?

Do you lose heart when a critique partner rips your latest baby to shreds?

Do you cry internally when a friend or family member tells you it's time to give up your dream, because writing isn't a "real career"?

Do you want to give up forever when you can't figure out how to fix a plot point?

Do you stop writing when things get really, really hard?

There's a place for "resting" our wounded bits as we go along this journey.  Putting aside a critique for a few days (or weeks) until we're ready to stomach it.  Taking some time off to not be a writer (for a while).  Whatever we need to do to get better.

Like dancers (and runners and gymnasts and football players and...), we sometimes get injured.  There might not be physical pain...we might not have a visible limp.  But the injuries hurt.  And if we don't take care of them, they're going to continue to cripple us.

You know how those old sports injuries come back to haunt you years later, right?  And how a dancer, once injured, has to be careful not to re-injure, or it could mean the end of dancing.  Likewise, writers need to tend to their "writing wounds" so they can continue to grow.  Continue to write.

So.  There's your analogy-from-Authoress's-life for the week.  How does it apply to you?


  1. Even carpal tunnel doesn't inhibit writing that much. With something like Dragon Speech, even someone without hands could write as long as they haven't lost their voice.

    As for what cripples me, I have a really hard time turning my inner editor off while writing. So I'll write something, look at it, think it's crap and I could do better, erase it, and then sit there thinking of how to write it better. Sometimes it takes me a week to write one paragraph.

  2. I write and a rock climb. I'm constantly balancing how hard I push when I climb based on how much typing I have ahead of me. Carpal tunnel is an issue too but that's because I've been lazy with my posture when I write. I'm working on that.

    I said recently to a group of fellow writers, "Writers are fragile." Of course, I was talking about myself. What cripples me? What doesn't? A 4.5 review on Amazon? It's a tragedy! Blog post about an agent/publisher pet peeves that I realize I'm totally guilty of? Run to the whiskey! The key is I just push it away and keep writing. I'm fortunate that I've got family and friends that are very supportive. If I was going at this alone, I don't think I'd make it.

  3. I'm crippled when I get to a point in my plotting where I just can't get my brain around what has to happen next and I start to think that if I can't figure out what goes next, the whole story must just be broken in a way that seems to big to fix.

  4. I love this analogy of icing an injury. I think I do that with my writing. I sometimes let a ms or a section of writing "rest" for a little bit, because a crit was too cutting or I'm feeling lost in what to do next. sometimes I've just read the same words soooo many times, I can't trust my own judgement. Letting the ms sit in a drawer for a few weeks or months is the best thing for both the word and my mental health.

  5. For me, the crippling things are what happens outside of writing. Life stuff. Bills to pay. Watching the gauge on my oil tank drop as we sit through another zero-degree night. That stuff gets in my head and interferes with writing a lot more powerfully than the writing stuff.

    Hope your toe gets better soon.

  6. *looks ruefully at a critique she isn't touching until May* I have to deal with critiques like cuts and bruises: first, read through them. Then, allow myself to rage/cry/whatever, slap a band-aid over it (i.e. try to forget about it) until the pain's mostly gone and I can see they have a point, then deal with it as fast as possible (like ripping off a band-aid) so the edits actually get done. Once that initial round's over, it's much easier... but dangit, it hurts.

    No matter how much I tell myself otherwise, a little voice in the back of my head spends the entire time it's with a critiquer telling me they won't be able to find anything wrong. *rueful headshake*

  7. You reminded me that my puppy ate my Birkies, and I miss them already... :( (I still have them, but I doubt they can be repaired because she did a pretty good job of chomping up the straps! Mmmm...tasty leather!) And I sure hope your toe gets better soon; I have a thoroughly messed up tendon in the bottom of my left foot, and I'd love to get back to running, but I don't know if that's going to happen. :(

    As far as writing injuries, on the literal side I do have RSI problems (not carpal tunnel, but a similar one that affects the nerves going to the outside fingers instead of the thumb and forefinger). In the figurative sense, I think I bounce back pretty well from criticism, because I've been writing since I was so young and it's just part of who I am and what I do. A lot of people talk about having bad days when they fear they're writing is horrible and wonder if they should quit, but it would never occur to me think anything like that.

    If the criticism is valid, it doesn't take long for it to become an exciting challenge to make those improvements to the story, and if it isn't, it's briefly disappointing (and sometimes puzzling, if it makes you wonder where the critic acquired some of their ideas about writing, or such a widely different taste in reading!). I think the hardest thing for me recently is worrying that there may not be much of a market for the kind of books I write, but it still doesn't change my relationship to my writing and my passion for it.

  8. Dear Mrs. Authoress,
    I am a dancer too. I have discovered that Joint Juice is really helpful to get rid of joint problems and aches. Give it a try.

    What cripples me in writing is not what my CPs say about me or the amount of rejections it is my own inability to convey the ideas in my head on the paper in a way that is captivating. Does that come with time and practice and experience and getting "injured" and recovering??? I noticed I have come a long way from what I used to be as a writer.

  9. I needed this right now, more than you can imagine, maybe. These past few weeks have been really, really low for me in regards to life and--especially--writing.

    More rejections keep piling up and it's hard to stomach the thought of still sending out more queries. I thank God for my writer friends and critique partners, who believe that I can get through this and remind me that I'm still a good writer, that I can get through this and that my circumstances right now will not always be the way they are.

  10. Phillip -- Thank you for the Joint Juice recommendation -- I will look into it! And yes, time and practice and experience DO make a difference. And so does reading the (good) writing of others. In just having finished a rewrite of a novel that was on sub 3 years ago (and obviously didn't sell), I am amazed at how my writing has matured and developed since then. And this was the novel that landed me my agent! So yes, you really never do stop growing, so long as you continue to write and be open to improvement. It's a wonderful thing!

    Kate -- ***HUGS*** Keep on keeping on!

  11. I don't stop when it gets really hard but my forward momentum is about at the speed on an inchworm. But eventually I get over the hump! =) Hope your toe gets well soon!