Archives: self-rejcection

Job Title – Writer

In Midcoast Maine we have an abundance of artists and creatives. My small town has 2 world-class museums and fifteen galleries. The first Friday of every month town turns into a party as residents and tourists wander in and out of art spaces. The energy is palpable. Catch up conversations, opinions of a month’s offerings and gossip abound. The spring and fall bring open studios. Arrows point toward destinations out one peninsula after another. It’s a lovely way to spend a day. Seeing the art of others spurs creativity for other mediums. There is only one creative school invisible in this sea of plenty – writers.

This was brought home earlier this week when I went with a writing group to surprise one of its members. The surprise? A Sudden Fiction group, spent months compiling the stories of CJ Quigg (Carol to her friends). An artist Nina Holland designed the cover, Chris McLarty did the design and Pamela Evans served as editor to ensure a professionally finished book. In addition, they paid for the printing out of pocket. Why would writers invest so much time and money on a fellow traveler’s work? It’s simple. These writers have met for years. Each week they write from a prompt and read the result aloud for immediate feedback. Over the years the group has liked and respected Carol’s work. She has been encouraged many times to submit her stories for publication. Carol’s fear subsumed her talent. And like many writers, her stories collected on a hard drive or in a desk drawer. Faced with ill health Carol thought her work if ever published would be done posthumously.

Publication does not a writer make, but there is nothing more thrilling to a writer than to hold a book with your name under the title.  We have no galleries. We invite no one to view our workspace. Our community congregates in small, quiet groups in libraries and living rooms. Our work is heard by other writers who we support and who support us. If you meet a writer, don’t ask, “What have you published?” Say, “Tell me about your writing.”

Prepare to be enchanted.  How do I know? I’ve worked with writers for decades and have hundreds of unpublished story threads in my head as a legacy of those classes. The above mentioned Sudden Fiction group has continued to meet since learning of the practice in one of my classes. Beautiful writers all, they have for their own reasons not published. That does not negate their ownership of the job title, Writer.

 

Writer’s Block v. Writer’s Slump & Self-Rejection

You’ve heard of writer’s block. If you haven’t experienced it, you still fear it. Every time you sit down to write you think is today when the words stop appearing? Is today, the end of ideas? Is today, the death of my story. See a pattern here? Like maybe these thoughts are a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe this pattern of thinking is a form steroidal self-rejection. If you imagine your creative spirit as dead, its spark falters, sputters and dies for lack of oxygen. The minute you form the words Writer’s Block as a self-descriptor,  SNAP OUT OF IT.

Maybe you need magical thinking, maybe you need a walk, maybe you need to try to meditate for the thousandth time. Shake yourself into the reality that only you can believe in the block of your work. Become a writer’s block atheist. You’ll thank yourself after you push through the self-rejection.

 

A writer’s slump is similar to writer’s block but instead of I can’t write, it manifests as I don’t want to write. During a slump, all external things become significantly more important, intriguing and entertaining than a pen in hand or fingers on the keyboard. Remember the last time you committed to the gym?  Worked like a charm until that morning you rolled over and hit the snooze button. Writing is no different. It doesn’t happen unless you show up. You show up even when your sister calls, there’s a great thread on Twitter or your sink is full of dishes. Once you push through, call your sister, check Twitter and hose the plates. They’ll all be there after you do YOUR work. This form of self-rejection diminishes the value of your work as less important than the ordinary tasks of the day. Only you can write your words. Anyone can wash the dishes.

The Other Bogeyman in the Closet – Self-Rejection

Writing is hard. Go to any social media site and you’ll see posts from writers who declare that they want to write but don’t.  Others wait for divine inspiration and express frustration at their lack of ideas. Still more, state for public consumption that what they write is drek.

If as you sit at your writing place and start from the position of,”I have nothing to say” you have self-rejected.  If as you take your morning walk or drive and your internal editor knocks down ideas that pop at random. You have self-rejected.

All writers live under the delusion that every word they write must be both brilliant and perfect. Many forget that writing is a process, a practice. Self-rejection interrupts both. If every sentence, paragraph or page is rejected you may end up with a few finely honed, technically precise pages but in the process, you will remove the heart, the truth, the vulnerability of a readable story.

First, we must write. Think of first draft words as lumps of coal. Miners know that one found lump of coal indicates that there must be others. So many that perhaps a little digging will bring up enough coal for warmth and power.  They also know that coal can hide diamonds or other veins of ore. Diamonds are accessed by rubbing away the coal to get to the sparkle.

Fill your first draft with words that are misshapen, string them together until you have pages. Allow the pages to see daylight. In the sun look for the hints of sparkle. Allow the pages to age before you read a completed manuscript. Surprise your self. You will find that you have mined more than coal.

Edit and polish until you find the true vein of your work.

© 2018 Lee Heffner – Author