The truth is that most of my writing life and personal life is not shiny. It's dull, mundane and heaped with unsuccessful effort and failed attempts.
The path to success is messy, filled with failures.
|A bit of wisdom by comic Demetri Martin|
Sure, there's the occasional good news that I celebrate mightily. And sometimes there's devastating news, like a family member's suicide last week -- the third to touch our family since the start of the year (the other two were a neighbor and a young man at our son's school).
And then there are the everyday difficulties.
Every day, we deal with the truth that one of our sons has a serious mental illness. There were dark, difficult years -- DARK, DIFFICULT YEARS -- until we found a diagnosis, medication and therapy. In short -- help and HOPE!
Why am I so publicly open about our son's illness? Why is our son completely open about his illness?
Because we understand it's not the illness, but society's shame and stigma that keeps people from seeking help. We stand behind NAMI's (National Alliance on Mental Illness) mission to eradicate the stigma attached to brain illnesses. We hope brain illnesses can be looked at like physical illnesses, like diabetes, so people feel free to seek treatment without worrying about being judged or discriminated against. Would you give insulin to your child if she were diabetic? Of course! Brain illnesses, from depression to anxiety to bipolar disorder (which our son has) to schizophrenia, often require medication, too.
As far as my writing life, I'm just now allowing myself to embrace and accept my writing life without hijacking my own efforts -- thinking I need a "real" job, chasing small writing jobs for "quick" money, worrying about the future and a host of what ifs. I'm just now able to embrace this writing life for its opportunity to connect with creative people, examine the endless complexities of life, people, nature and live a rich, fulfilling life of the mind.
It's been over two years since I finished writing Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen. Two years of sending my agent a few picture books, novel premises and a completed novel that all weren't publishable. There have been nine -- NINE -- failed projects since I wrote Olivia.
My agent -- bless her patient soul -- thought I was frustrated with her repeated "No"s. I wasn't. I'm not even frustrated with my repeated attempts and failures. I've finally learned that failure -- repeated failure -- is part of the process. I wish it wasn't. I wish this writing life were easier. But it is exactly what it is supposed to be. We must try. We must fail. And we must try again.
This week I'm starting again. I've got an idea I'm excited about. And I hope this time I can push aside the fear of going deep emotionally and create my next publishable novel.