I went back to my parent’s house for a few days recently. I say I went back to my parent’s house. I saw them for about a day and then spent the rest of my time with a close friend. I had a really nice time overall, but one of the first issues I faced was that my sister also came home and essentially told me that my housemates had been saying things about me behind my back. (To clarify, she lived in the house as well until recently, so has known my housemates for longer than me.)
This really threw me off, as I would say that for a student house, we get along pretty well most of the time. Things aren’t perfect, but when you’re in a house with four other girls (and only one bathroom!), you’re generally just grateful that you aren’t screaming tearfully at each other or trying to rip each other’s hair out.
It made me feel like I didn’t really want to come back, but I realized that it wasn’t the end of the world. 1. My sister is one of those people who have a tendency to take things you say and make them sound about one hundred times worse. 2. Yes, there was a period when I was ill, when I was busy with NaNo, when I was waiting for an appointment at the breast cancer screening clinic, when housework was not my priority. I can understand why my housemates may have been frustrated about that. If they said anything, it probably wasn’t personal.
And then, a few days later, I went out with my friend and got terribly drunk. And it was very fun at first. But then I kind of hit that moody, depressed state which I’ve never experienced before. The one where you wonder what you’re doing with your life because:
A. You still don’t have a job because you’re a lazy fuck and nobody wants to employ you and why am I so useless and oh god.
B. You’re really not that smart either. You’re not dumb, you got a 2.1 this year after all, but that’s still not a first.
C. You are surrounded by the absolute dregs of society, including some freaky stranger who keeps coming up behind you and putting his arms around you and trying to kiss your neck and arrrrgghhh leave me the fuck alone!
D. You’re a terrible writer. A real stinker. What are you playing at, spending so much time on wordpress and pretending people care about what you write?
E. Your housemates hate you. Maybe they’re right and you are a horrible, terrible person.
And, I’m absolutely sure that a lot of people on here can empathize with D. Not because they’re bad writers, just because they have doubts. Even famous authors have doubts about their work sometimes.
I guess there’s no big secret to suddenly gaining confidence in your work. It takes time. I think it’s all about practicing and not giving up.
Oh mighty users of WordPress, what is your opinion?
Yep. I can relate to D. Woke up this morning to another rejection slip in my email, which is not the end of the world, but it always makes me scream inside. I think things like, “I’m such a hack! I should just give up already. I’m wasting everyone’s time.” It was especially discouraging because this particular magazine held onto the piece for a really long time, and even emailed me to say I’d passed the first reading. Was hoping it would be my big “I got published” breakthrough, but instead it’s just another rejection for the collection.
I went for a long walk out in the woods just now to think about it and clear my head. It helped a bit, although I’m still feeling discouraged. I sat and stared at the “Friday Fictioneers” photo for about 30 minutes this morning after getting the rejection slip and was so frustrated that I could think of absolutely nothing to write about. And that’s supposed to be fun! Yikes.
I’ve never found an easy cure for discouragement, and especially not when circumstances add up to be overwhelming the way you describe. Life just sucks sometimes, and it’s easy to blame it on something intrinsic to yourself (“I am a terrible writer”) when the mitigating circumstances tell the real story (“I am a developing writer, and I will never get better if I don’t practice a ton and put myself out there.”) It sounds like you have a lot on your plate. If it makes any difference, I think you’re a great writer and I always enjoy reading what you post, and I don’t think you should give up. Here’s one vote in the “someone cares about what you write” category, for what it’s worth, even if I’m on another continent. 🙂
Thanks so much!
I’ve never even had enough confidence to submit something, so I’ve never had to face that kind of rejection. I have it all the time with part time job applications, but it’s very different when it’s something you created, something you really put effort into and value.
In the end, you have to go back to thinking, “Well, this is what I love doing, so I’m going to do it, and I don’t care what other people think!” but it’s very hard to think like that sometimes!
Gosh, job applications are their own special kind of hell. I hate and despise resumes, and think they are the spawn of Satan. If there’s a better way to make people feel like crap than to force them to be judged by a few things listed on a sheet of paper, I don’t know what it is. I always want to say, “I know my resume is short, but if you speak to me for 5 minutes, I can tell you why you should hire me.” Best of luck with the job-hunting, and if at all possible, try not to let it get you down.
Also, thanks for your kind words! Believe it or not, most of the time I keep a pretty good attitude about rejection slips. I think of them as proof that someone in the professional world took a little time to read my writing. 🙂 Still, on days like today it gets me down. It’s dark and rainy here anyway. I’m just gonna wallow in the bad mood, drink some beer, and watch horror movies. I bet I’ll feel better tomorrow. 🙂
I can relate! For the first few years of me putting up writing online there was nothing but silence in reply. Like shouting at the void. Obviously, no-one cared. And then I got feedback, and the doubts shifted to other things, they raised the bar for what would mean that people ‘care’ about my writing. They keep doing that. It’s good practice to ignore doubts, I feel. I always get more stuff written if I do.
That’s probably one of the good things about the photo challenges. People actually comment and say nice things, and it’s kind of an ego boost, even though they kind of have to say nice things about it.
It is a little addictive when you get praise, and I do find myself checking my emails all the time to see if anyone has liked or commented on my work, and I get depressed if I don’t get anything. I guess that is a little narcissistic.