Disappointments and New Windows

I’ve suffered some disappointments this last week. Well, one major one that also hits the pocketbook. An academic gig I thought I had fell through. I thought I’d been offered the job, actually, but apparently I was mistaken. Anyhow, it’s really disappointing and a little bit of a kick to the gut. I was really excited about the job. And then I got some potentially bad medical news and I won’t get anything concrete until the doc returns from a trip later this week. So hurry up and wait. I hate that. I’m not good at waiting. I’m even worse at disappointment.

Unfortunately, that’s a whole lot of what writing is about, and the worse thing is, so often we disappoint ourselves. We don’t manage to capture in words the visions in our minds. We don’t make the worlds and characters feel as rich and compelling as they are to us. We leave holes in the logic of the plots, and we go off on tangents. The worst part is that we are the only ones to blame and for me, it’s like being sixteen again and the boy I like doesn’t like me and What’s Wrong With Me???? *wry grin*

Then we all look at what other writers are doing and compare ourselves (usually for the worse), forgetting that they went through the same angst, the same sense of failure, the many rewrites, the avoidance, the banging of the head on the desk, and so many other  woes. Readers only ever see the final product which, hopefully, is an amazing read. It looks so easy from that angle and then we ridicule ourselves even worse because we tend to compare our crappy early drafts to those sparkling final versions.

We’re nuts, but according to Ursula LeGuin, all readers are. To paraphrase from the Preface to the Left Hand of Darkness, while reading fiction–especially SF/F, we believe in people who’ve never existed, in places that never existed, having imaginary conversations and doing imaginary things that only ever happened in the brain of the writer and in the words on the page. Pretty crazy, right?

I like being crazy. Except the kind of crazy where I’m freaking out about my writing.

My plan for tomorrow? Clean my office. I’m sure that will help. Right? And if not, then the kitchen and the living room and the garage . . .

Actually, it’s times like these that I remind myself of something Neil Gaiman said in his commencement address to The University of the Arts (which if you’ve never listened to, please do. It’s wonderful.) In it, he reminds us to Enjoy the Ride. All of it. And writing is fun, even though it’s hard, frustrating, and sometimes disappointing. We get to create worlds and characters and put them through the grinder all in the name of story and truth and entertainment. And get paid.

The following is a gif I love, but is potentially upsetting/horrifying, I’m putting in some space. Scroll down if you want to see.

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Comments

Disappointments and New Windows — 11 Comments

  1. I hope the medical news turns out to be a false alarm or otherwise less than scary. And shame on those people who led you to believe you had a job. Sounds like they handled things badly or you wouldn’t have thought you had an offer.

    I’m sure cleaning will help, though!

  2. If it’s any consolation, we had that job thing happen to us a few years back, at a time when we scraping the last scraps from the crevices in the barrel bottom and had no idea how we were going to pay for food and rent at the end of the week. It was a very bleak moment in our lives. A few months later (when we were literally at the end of all our resources—financial and otherwise), something infinitely better came along.

    I’m not sure how that happens, or if it happens all the time, but I’ve seen and heard of it enough times to believe that it will happen for you too.

    Here’s to Hope!