Friday, August 23, 2013

Are You At Land's End In Your Writing Life?

Sign posted at the farthest tip of land in Cornwall, UK

Some clever person came up with this signpost in the Cornwall area of England, which we visited earlier this summer. Made us smile and as Ken wandered farther on the adjacent pathway, I lingered. I gazed across that huge sea that appeared to have no other side. Where was it? Thousands of ocean miles beyond, that's where. I thought about the early immigrants who sailed to the Colonies from these shores, even those who started the American Colonies. How frightening to set off for the unknown. But also how very thrilling to embark on such an adventure. They didn't know what lay ahead of them but were willing to take a chance in hopes that good things waited across that vast body of water. History tells us that they received their share of difficulties, heartaches and discouraging experiences. But along with all of that, the people who went on the adventure gained a sense of achievement, satisfaction and joy as they made their way into the new world and settled the land there.

Beginning writers, even those who've been writing for some time, are very much like those early immigrants. It's never smooth sailing from day one to the day you call yourself a roaring success in this field. The writer's sea is fraught with many of the same problems the early settlers faced. There are heartaches when rejections come more than acceptances. We face discouragement when an editor takes time to write a note to let the writer know why their work was rejected. Especially, in our early days, we strike out far more often than we get a hit. I was once told by a longtime writer to expect an acceptance for one of every twelve submissions. Doesn't take a genius to figure out that means eleven times your heart falls to your feet when you receive the rejection notice, or even no notice at all after months slide by. We get discouraged when a story just doesn't seem to work. Why is it so flat? Why can't I make the characters come alive? Why doesn't my prose sing?

But along with those dismal things, there are the times in our writing life when we do have a tremendous sense of achievement. We are satisfied and elated with something we've written or the number of published pieces we've had. It's a good thing we do experience those positives to offset the negatives. If not, we might get so discouraged that we'd chuck the whole writer's journey into the nearest body of water. For me, that would be Tuttle Creek Lake, not an ocean. For some of you, it might be a meandering creek or river. Doesn't matter what kind of place it is, some of us are ready to dump it all at times.

But wait! Don't rush into giving up the writing life. If you set goals that are within the realm of being able to achieve, if you truly love to write, and if you can dwell on the positive aspects more than the bleak ones, then you'll keep going. You may feel like you're at Land's End on some days, but look across that ocean between frustration and success. It's worth trying to get to the other side. 

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