Thursday, May 14, 2009
You are NOT Your Writing
I was inspired to write this post from Nathan Bransford’s post about not letting writing define you. I wholeheartedly agree. I used to define myself by the work I was doing. When I became a teacher, I was thrilled. My job meant everything to me, and anything that threatened my position would cause me to sink into depression. Every “see me” from the principal of the school where I was working might as well have been a pink slip. It came to the point where the fear of losing my job became all encompassing. Then I realized something very important. I was tying my whole identity and self-worth into my job. My job defined me. Without it, who was I?
I see this same thing happening to some writers. In fact, I felt this way when I finished my novel. I entered a small tidbit into a Drop the Needle contest on Miss Snark’s First Victim. Of course, I had no business doing this because my novel is only a first draft! What did I expect? Well the outcome wasn’t good. It makes me laugh now because I have grown so much since that time. Seriously, too funny! After the contest I was crushed, and now I know why. Once again I was putting my self-worth into something that I had no business putting it into.
Your job and your writing are transitory, meaning they come and go. Change is inevitable. If you tie your self-worth into transitory things, it will also come and go. Self-worth may change and grow as we change and grow, but it should be tied to only one thing, you. Perhaps this may be the key to acceptance when something doesn’t work out the way you want it to. Usually when things don’t work out, your higher power is sending you in another direction.
Having said this, I think publishing is a good goal but not the ultimate goal. I put a lot of work into my novel, and I plan to put a lot more work into it. What if it doesn’t get published after I put all of that work into it? Well, I will ask myself what I got out of the process, or what did I learn? Perhaps that is the ultimate goal… the experience, the learning, the life lessons. I have learned so much already, especially from all of you.
This brings me to critiques. A critique, good or bad, is a gift. They help you grow and develop into what we all desire to be…good writers. I always hear successful writers say how the harshest advice they had ever received helped them grow leaps and bounds. Think about it, sometimes rejection puts us back on the right path. It sent me to grad school! Perhaps if we don’t define ourselves by our writing, it might be easier to stomach harsh critiques and rejection. In the end, your book is not YOU.
I know, harder said than done, but think about it. If a book doesn’t work… you learned something. It was worth your while. Now, move on and write another one. You won’t get anywhere by quitting.
Posted by Traci at 7:03 PM