Wednesday, September 30
Psychological Trump Cards That Cripple Us
Special Guest Author
So I had an anxiety attack the other day—heart racing, sweats, irregular breathing, the whole nine yards—because I was considering the query process for my latest novel. Just considering it, mind you, (I haven’t even hit ‘send’ yet), and suddenly I was convinced of so many things: that my novel isn’t interesting. That no one wants to read a story about a haunted cop set in the Canadian Rockies. That not a single soul will ‘get’ the high concept underpinning this supernatural story. That every gorgeous love scene within it is nothing more than gratuitous sex. That even if my novel is worthy, it will be me who is rejected because I am ‘too old’, for surely no agent will think I can actually crank out enough material to make them a lucrative cut at this age—right? Oh, and my first published novel—my small press publisher is now defunct. Certainly somehow I will be blamed for that, won’t I? Or at least considered to have had bad judgment to go with them in the first place? And as a result it is a guarantee that no agent or editor will want to put a toe within a ten mile radius of my projects….right?
It is so easy to convince myself that every avenue of my novel (and of me!) isn’t right, compelling, or worth it. And that panic attack I experienced, it was real—not just me using my poetic license to make a point; I truly did have all those physical symptoms, and that experience is testimony to how far our own insecurities and doubts will lead us down a garden path of sinkholes and thorns. And of how much our fears will convince us of the damndest things: Lately I have (truly) been unusually busy; my day job is hopping, I’ve launched my oldest into University, I am taking on speaking engagements about neuroscience and addiction which spirit me here, there, and everywhere, and of course I’ve been submitting weekly to this blog. So life has made it very easy for me to set submitting queries aside (despite the fact that they’re all ready to go) because….well, I am just too busy.
Except… I’m not.
I’m no busier than anyone else or than any one of you. What I truly am is too damn scared. Too scared to hit send because queries mean the inevitability of rejection, and rejection is, (as we talked about a couple weeks ago) hurtful and hard. I am scared because, like every one of you and like every other creature on this globe, I do not like to feel vulnerable.
So then how do I—and any of you who might be floating right alongside me in this leaky little insecurity boat—find the backbone to point, click, and ship our projects into the inboxes of agents?
I confess I don’t know. This part of the writing process simply never gets any easier, and every time I go down this road my knuckles are just as white as the time before that, and as the time before that. Because I repeat: vulnerability is an uncomfortable place to sit. Disappointment is not a welcome feeling to court.
But this is what I do know: I know that this particular article wraps up the 8-10 week stint within which I have had the pleasure and privilege of sharing thoughts and discussion with each of you every week. I know that as I will now interact with all of you far more infrequently, that I want to thank Janice Hardy, and each of you for how these articles and our dialogue have helped me to really, truly (and finally!) accept my title as ‘A Real Writer’ (caps intended), something I’ve previously refused to give myself credit for. (‘Cause ‘real writers have contracts with big publishing houses, oodles of sales, and only ever get the most provocative reviews….right?). I know that, like each of you, writing gives me tremendous joy and fulfillment, and I know that absolutely nothing feels as good as entertaining people; lifting them out of their reality and into a story where good guys (and gals!) ultimately always win. I know that despite the Everest-like learning curves within this field, that every difficulty is worth it because shaping language into pictures and adventures and relationships is a beautiful art that can take our breath away with every image we craft in a way that feels just perfect.
I know I’d love to cheer you (yes: YOU!) on and celebrate your successes (and flip the bird to your rejections –yeah, I’m saucy. *shrugs*). And, lastly, I know that while I pull on my stiff upper lip and belly-up to my keyboard, brace myself to hit ‘send’ on my queries, that I might have no clue as to what may or may not happen to my novel, but I will continue to live by the credo that is this (and I suggest you all do too): “When you can’t do what you want, do what you can.” Meaning? Tell your stories! Write with the intention of carrying readers into tales that make their tummies flutter, their jaws clench, their tears fall, and the pages turn. Share your fiction whenever and with whomever you can; I post free short stories on my blog. I regularly toss up snippets from my WIPs on Facebook and no, it is not arrogant nor is it self-congratulatory—it’s a way to share what you love to do with the world, and you need to because…. “when you can’t do what you want, you do what you can.” And with that I bid you all adieu until I’m asked to post again, and I wish each and every one of you every ounce, cell, molecule of good luck with your projects. Au revoir!
Note from Janice: Bonnie will be returning as a monthly contributor in 2016 in the How They Do It Series. Look for her wisdom, humor, and compassion the fourth Tuesday of each month. And with Halloween coming up, go check out her novel, Divinity & The Python. It's the perfect creepy, romantic mystery for the season.
Bonnie Randall is a Canadian writer who lives between her two favorite places—the Jasper Rocky Mountains and the City of Champions: Edmonton, Alberta. A clinical counselor who scribbles fiction in notebooks whenever her day job allows, Bonnie is fascinated by the relationships people develop—or covet—with both the known and unknown, the romantic and the arcane.
Her novel Divinity & The Python, a paranormal romantic thriller, was inspired by a cold day in Edmonton when the exhaust rising in the downtown core appeared to be the buildings, releasing their souls.
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