How does writing just vanish from my life at times? I’m not completely sure. I’d like to say it’s because of schoolwork, or my part-time job, or my relationship. But really, it’s because I haven’t kicked my own ass into gear. When I graduate in two months, will I all of a sudden devote all my free time to writing? No. Will I devote more of my time to it? I better, if I want to be a writer. Because writers write. They don’t stop for months and then just pick it up again with all their skills perfectly intact and rust-free. Why have I still not learned this lesson? In one of my English classes, we read a book titled “The War of Art”, and it was all about resistance. Resistance is that life force that keeps you from doing everything you want to do; it keeps you from going on that trip to a new city, or from going out with friends to a place you’ve never been before. Being in a new city tonight (or at least one I haven’t been in for more than ten years) reminds me of resistance. I got here (Chicago) and was grumpy. I complained and I sulked. And right now I’m sitting here writing this post, and wondering why I haven’t accomplished all the things I want to yet. I dread to whisper the word laziness, for fear it would be true. I like to consider myself a hard worker who pushes herself all the time. But what else can it be? I am not making time for writing, and so nothing is happening in that arena of my life, which is supposedly so important to me. As the Rolling Stones eloquently put in a song, “Time waits for no one.” So it’s time to get back on to the proverbial wagon, off of which I have fallen once again. I’ll let you know how it goes. Over and out.
To be honest, I don’t know that much about professional rejection. Yet. As an individually who desperately wants to write, I should start preparing myself for a host of nos. My initial thoughts on how to do that? Once the said no is received, eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, watch a Nicholas Sparks movie, and then improve my writing skills to get more yeses. And my thoughts were in that order too. Oh dear. Anyways, imagine my shock when I find this article on LinkedIn about a man who is actually asking to get rejected in order to grow a thicker skin. His project involved 100 days of rejection, each day asking someone a normal to semi-crazy request in the hope that with each no, he would get better at accepting this response but also increase his drive to earn the yes. Brilliant. Seriously, seriously brilliant. And talk about motivated! Jeez, I’m feeling a little insecure here. Thus the serious need to work on accepting rejection in the most graceful and professional manner possible, on my own terms.
Today’s post is short, but really all I have to say is that I’m going to hear a lot of nos, and you probably are too. But if we work hard enough and get past those rounds of rejection, we could potentially find ourselves right where we want to be, on the end of an offer where the employer is asking us to say yes.
One of my good friends posted the quote, “Opportunity doesn’t knock. It presents itself when you beat down the door.” Bill Cosby said this, and he couldn’t have been more right.
I am currently in the job search process, scouring potential employers’ company websites and tailoring cover letters and my resume like crazy. And you know what the worst part of the job hunt is? It’s the waiting part. The awful waiting game you play after submitting an application for the job you really, really want. So don’t wait.
I like to think of it as taking a drive out on the highway; it’s a wonderful thing and the best part about is not stopping, just enjoying the open road. This is the most positive metaphor I can come up with to describe the sometimes (even often) frustrating process of pursuing your dreams.
One thing I know that I didn’t used to: I’m not going to get my dream job right off the bat. I’m not going to graduate college as a published and highly-acclaimed novelist; and I’m okay with that. Thank God. Because if I wasn’t, I’d be setting myself up for failure and disappointment right from the get-go. I am probably going to start off in some publishing firm (hopefully), and have my nose stuck in a million manuscripts (hyperbolically speaking, of course).
I digress. Anyways, the most important thing is to keep knocking on the door, and not only that, but on the right ones, until one of two things happens: 1) someone opens the door or 2) you bang that door down and walk right in. And keep your head up while you do it.
I admit, I’ve been lazy about writing this week. It’s normal for us all to get busy, to get overwhelmed, and then to look back at our time and realize we didn’t do anything we desperately wanted to do. Sometimes that is the nature of the beast. However, the important thing to remember is to jump back on track and make up for lost time. This is actually the most important thing I can say about writing; never stop. You aren’t a writer if you stop writing. No matter how ideal or nice it would be, it’s not going to happen. If I sound harsh, it’s only because I’ve been on the receiving end hearing those harsh words, and hearing them from professors and mentors who truly want to get me where I want to go. And where is that? The Lovely Land of Published Writers. That is where I want to go.
I shall refer to the great Dr. Seuss for my closing remarks:
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
Choose writing. Choose what you want. Don’t wait for it. Work for it.
Fear not readers, I’m not going to destroy the potentially amazing novel I’m working on right now. However, I do have to say, it got shredded (figuratively speaking) at workshop a few nights ago, and it is now time for an intensive rework. As a writer, there are always going to be flaws that I don’t see until someone else points them out to me, but man, was it rough. It’s really hard to put your work (seemingly an extension of yourself) out there and just watch it get torn to bits. I was really upset right after, but over the last couple of days I have become very appreciative of what happened. Rejection is always going to be a part of writing, but at this level of the creative process, it gives me a chance to make my work many times better, and potentially good enough to outdo all those other manuscripts sitting on an editor’s desk.
I’m starting over, in a sort. I have a blank Word doc in front of me, and my printed manuscript by my side. Retyping it gets in an automatic rewrite, and gives me a chance to break it down by every single sentence. I guess I’m going to do my own form of shredding, so to speak.
I’d say the most important thing to take from this is that even if you’re sensitive, suck it up. Because if you do, you could get published. At least, that’s my hope. I think it applies to whatever profession you want though; you just have to want it enough to do something about it. Something radical. Like getting shredded to get better.
I Have the Same Response When Anyone Asks Me This
Today in one of my classes, a guest speaker said, “All successful people have mentors in their lives.” He is very, very right. As someone wanting to pursue a career as a novelist, I originally thought it would be an individual profession, done solo. How wrong I was; now it’s senior year and I am networking like crazy, trying to meet people from all different walks of life as well as tailoring my job search to the things I really, really want. I guess today’s post is about two things:
1) That it really is about who you know, and 2) You have to want what you want really, really badly, and in addition to that, you have to work work work for it.
I have several mentors in my life; some I have a closer relationship to than others, but they’re all immensely helpful and mutually fulfilling. You don’t have to have a mentor in your field, but you do have to have someone who can call you out on your weaknesses and mistakes, who at the same time can offer you the most support when you need it.
Mentors are everything. Work is everything. My writing should be a product of the two.
Best wishes to our future endeavors,
It’s a Monday morning, and I need to get writing done. Some days, it’s really hard to get it done. Some days I don’t write at all. But I always find myself being drawn back to the page, whether it’s to read something someone else has written or to fill up the blank sheet of paper in front of me. There is nothing as intimidating as that blank space. But once I get started, even if it’s terrible, at least I have made something from myself, and I can be proud of that. Sometimes I’ll write at 1,000 words per hour, and those are great days. That’s a goal I usually keep in mind, because without a goal, I’ll never reach anything at all. Even my job in commission-based retail has taught me that. You have to have a goal to make something great. And it doesn’t have to be great to start off with, but it does have to exist in the first place to make it to anywhere at all. One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Les Brown, who said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”