"To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings."
from "The Walrus and the Carpenter" by Lewis Carroll
One of my favorite stanzas from one of my favorite poems, and my friends, the time has definitely come.…I have not written a word of creative or non-creative anything (unless my resume counts as creative writing?) for months, and months, and well, you get my point!
So much has happened, and so much has not happened, since the last time I put pen to, ummm actually…fingers to keyboard.
So I’ll attempt to give a quick recap on what the past six months have been like.
Over one hundred and fifty job applications submitted
Over one hundred and forty-six non responses
Two job offers
Working a young man's job for six weeks!
Okay, so I realize the first two bullet points are probably painfully familiar to any writer who’s reading this (substituting job aps for manuscripts of course!) but finally I landed a job in Northern Nevada at a gold mine, and I am so grateful, and so tired, and so tired, and grateful. It’s been over thirty years since I stepped foot in a mine of any sort, but it feels like I never left, except for the fact that my body did in fact leave and is still fighting with me to stay away. In fact, on more than a few occasions it's quoted that famous line to me once uttered by Greta Garbo… yes that one! “I Vant To Be Alone.”
Usually at 3 am when I’m reaching over to turn off my alarm clock it begins. The whining repetition of the line, begging me to stay in bed. Home, by the way, is now a twenty-six foot, fifth-wheel trailer sitting in a dirt RV park in Winnemucca, but believe me it looks every part the Hollywood mansion when I pull up in front of it seventeen hours after I leave! Did I mention this is a young man's job?
Talk about a shock to the system: 3 am alarm, breakfast, wash, brush teeth, grab lunch from fridge, by 3:30 am catch the mine bus, by 4 am leave the bus lot, arrive at mine at 5:30 am and work till 6 pm, ride bus back to town and arrive at lot by 7:30 pm, drag bum to truck and drive home to aforementioned Hollywood mansion, shower, make snack for dinner, make lunch for tomorrow, set coffee, climb into bed and lights out by 9 pm! TIRED never felt so bloody good though. I consider myself extremely lucky to have landed the position.
I get to fly home and see Patty every other week, for three or four days, and those are precious times.
So the point of this lil post isn’t to get everybody to say,"Awww poor bugger." (Although sympathy is always welcome. Patty dishes it out in good supply, but one can never get enough!) No the point of this is actually a comparison to what we writers go through.
As I said earlier, we sit down and write our hearts out hoping that the jumble of words we arrange on paper will entice the reader to move beyond the opening lines and somehow get caught up in the story we crafted. Once we have crafted our piece, had friends read it,and make adjustments based on their input, we send it out into the world. We pray, or we chant, or we drink, or we do whatever it is we do while we wait with everything crossed, that someone did in fact read and like some part of it enough to follow up and ask for more. So we fine tune it and present ourselves again.
We wait again, we try not to read into the length of time that elapses, and when we realize that it’s been an inordinate amount of time, we struggle with ourselves. Should I call, follow up in some manner, or do I wait for that reader, or interviewer to pick up the phone or drop me an email. I can't stand it, so I call and leave voice mails. Am I being a nuisance or is this a positive trait?
Finally we get the call and it’s negative. “Sorry, you’re overqualified.” “Sorry, your story just wasn’t right for us. Although we did enjoy it, there’s just something that doesn’t work for us! (WELL CRAP! Tell me what it is and I’ll fix it!)
Then it happens. We get that positive response… yes we love the piece, or the manuscript, or your resume, and we’d like to work with you, or we’d like you to work with us, and here’s what we would like you to do. Go out and buy a trailer, because every man and his dog has already moved here so there’s no accommodation, and move out-of-state, and work the way you did when you were nineteen or twenty. Kiss your wife goodbye and tell her you’ll get home when you can, and face off against that inner self that says I can't do this, and smack it in the mouth, and punch it in the nose, and beat that voice into submission, because you can’t doubt your ability to get through this.
Isn’t that the same as getting a positive response from an editor, or an agent? Don’t we work like mad dogs and Englishmen out in the midday sun? Don’t we doubt ourselves, and our ability to get through the re-write or the edits or changing the whole story? Don’t we sweat and question every choice of word or phrase, in the hopes that if we craft it just right we’ll be a success, and just like my new job, I don’t need to be a best seller, although it would be nice, because then I could maybe get onto permanent day shift.
It finally occurred to me that I am a writer, and as a writer I’ve fought these same issues and I gave up on them. Now I realize that I gave up too early. I look at the Kathy Wiechman’s, and the Melissa Kline’s, and the Kim Van Sickler’s, and I realize that they went Gold Mining and they had the character to fight through the hardships. They get on the bus every morning at 3:30 am, and I need to stop with the excuses and get my writing out there, because eventually I will get that positive response, and the struggle will be worth it.
So if you’re stuck in that dusty RV Park with me, all I can say is, Too Bloody Bad! Get off your bum and get writing, and don’t stop, writer. Write! (But it’s okay if you wanna have a bit of a whinge every now and then. Drop me a line and I’ll talk you off the ledge.)