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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Don't Let the Devils Diminish Your Drive

The view from our wedding 2001
At right is a photo of the view from the fishing boat-turned-nature-cruise-vessel where my spouse and I tied the legal knot almost 15 years ago. This is my second marriage, and it is fraught with more turmoil, but better results than my first. In other words, marriage takes work, just like anything else in life worth doing. The clouds make for a spectacular sunset.

Our marriage has weathered a few storms well, but sadly, our little wedding boat was destroyed in a storm just a couple years after we were married. We cherish the memories and few photos of that day: content that our union is stronger than any storm.

What does this mean for my writing?

A fellow writer on a welll-known writing site expressed his worries that maybe he should give up writing all together after his beta reader (one person) told him his project of more than ten years was flat and lifeless. I understand this thinking, believe me. Skepticism usually wins out over optimism in my brain. Any little cheerleaders are skewered by the talons of the diminutive devils that grace my psyche on a daily basis. Indeed, it is far easier to give up in this writing world than to plow ahead. I have limited time to write and even less time to submit completed works, so each rejection packs a double fisted punch. My inner voice is my worst critic, often urging me to give up because it's all useless anyway--or so the little demons would have me believe. People, whom I considered close friends, failed to buy my book and the woman whom I thought was my soul sister and strongest supporter, emailed me a rambling clinical opinion devoid of any praise or encouragement. This is when you realize that your friends don't necessarily care about your writing as much as you. When you get over the shock of this discovery, you understand that you are the only one who really cares that you wrote anything at all. Reality can suck the life right out of a writer.

Fortunately, you will also receive heartfelt comments about your work. Someone takes the time to comment on my blog or tells me they loved my book or they thought my short story reading was spectacular and I admit, I am renewed. I don't believe writers who say they write only for themselves. If I only wanted to write for myself, I would stick to the journal and not try to publish anything. I write to connect to others, to communicate ideas, to share a story, and yes--to receive feedback. It's a big ol' unsympathetic world out there most of the time, but that doesn't mean I, or anyone else, should give up what they feel they are meant to do. I intend to keep writing and working on my craft to improve. There's always room for improvement, but if you must write, no matter how hard or discouraging it may be at times. Take the criticisms for what they are: opinions. Use them as a springboard for writing it better or if it's only one opinion, remember it's only one person's opinion. It's not the end of the world, I promise, even if it sometimes feels like that. Have a good cry or a strong drink or a hard run or whatever you need to do to slay the dragon then get back at it. No one decides that you fail except you. Be a clever devil, turn your back on the the darkness and face the sun.

Cheers! Now get to work.