Friday, November 19, 2010

I'm Looking for a Bunch of Rejects

Writing is harder than it looks.

Here I am, with my little blog, attempting, by describing my life, to impact the world for better, and I often doubt the value of anything I might have experienced or have to say regarding what other people are doing.

After every post, I find myself filled with self-doubt and fear of rejection. While I understand the importance of writing honestly and being transparent, in order to be fully effective in my gift, it is with fear and trembling that I traverse the country of vulnerability.

At least in my poetry, I can hide from most people, with cryptic messages that will hopefully reach the right kindred spirits, those who don't misunderstand me. Why do I feel the need to be so understood? Why do I place my value in how well I can do something? They aren't related, worth and ability.

It's hard to transfer this from my head to my heart. I hold back from using my abilities out of fear of my inabilities. Maybe it is this kind of author who never arrives at the glowing destination they dream of, be it getting published, or arriving on a bestseller list, or better yet (and seemingly so unattainable), joining those hallowed souls on the classics lists. Oh to be not just a writer, not just a good writer, but to be a great writer. It is one of the most layered, for better and worse, and intentioned prayers of my soul.

Maybe it shouldn't be. Maybe I should be content right where I am, in so-so world, where I haven't worked hard or achieved that English degree that I know will help me immensely, and I haven't been published, and I almost always have a hard time hitting "publish post", and just having the respect of family, fellow moms, friends and other Christians usually suffices to satisfy.

Well, if I squint my eyes and let it get blurry it satisfies.

I often wonder if this goal is completely wrong. I want to be the kind of writer who adds to the world, who contributes to the great conversation, who asks and is willing to answer hard questions that polarize most people into two groups. My personality is kind of polarizing, so it seems like I would write the issues I am pondering, but I don't. I often steer away from them in fear. Fear of rejection.

I need strength and courage to be alone on the stand. I need to give myself grace to be exactly what I was meant to be, especially if it has nothing to do with greatness. How hard to lower my expectations. I know some of us struggle with not expecting enough of ourselves, but I struggle with expecting too much. Typical Type A who can not, will not, must not, under threat of failure, go easy on myself. I expect excellence. I crave it in everything I encounter, be it friendships, food, music, nature, child-rearing, fiction, organization, marriage...

I recently started forcing myself to write a few times a week, about whatever I'm thinking of. Having never done it before, I wasn't sure, after all these lofty ambitions, if I could actually do it. If I could actually find subject matter that was intriguing enough to spend my time and energy on that frequently. I found it was possible. I had it in me. I found it required tons of hard work. And sometimes I find myself being lazy, not really reaching for that excellent way of putting something or that well-placed sentence or better word that hits the nail on the head. Laziness. Hmm, I didn't really expect to find that in there with all my wannabe over-achiever goals. So that's definitely something I'll be working on. I want to want to work. It can't all be a pizza party, this writing thing.

I started wanting to write a book when I turned 30 last year. But about what? I tend to skip over the small, necessary steps in pursuit of the large gold medal moments. Derek, wise as he is, recently suggested doing some short stories and seeing if that takes me anywhere. Start small, he said. So I think that's what I'll do.

But it's submitting my work that freaks me out most of all. Putting yourself out there like that, in such a look at me way, with the hugely probable chance of getting a rejection slip back in the mail, is simply terrifying. I'm scared to death of that kind of "professional" rejection. But most published authors get tons of rejection slips before getting published. I know one of my favorite childhood authors, Madeleine L'Engle, writes in her journals about getting turned down over and over for A Wrinkle in Time, the book that went on to win a Newberry Medal, and other awards too. So getting rejected is good, right?
Whatever the case may be, I'm striving for growth on this blog. I'm striving to become a better writer, a more honest communicator, and trying to set some goals toward getting my work out there. I'm looking to work harder, be lazy less.
And I guess I'm looking for a bunch of rejects.

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