Monday, December 10, 2012

Insulation vs. Padded Cell

The awe-inspiring ladies of my American Night Writers chapter, the Skyline Scribblers, have a saying. Friends don’t let friends publish junk.
I desperately hope they live this credo because I rely rather heavily on their input regarding my various WIP. And while I am eager to take their constructive critiques, I am also a sensitive soul. I cry at sappy love songs, romantic comedies, epic drama, Hallmark commercials, puppies, this list of things that make me cry . . . you get the idea. I don't have television because I don't want to watch the news. And though I get the Washington Post to my inbox each day as an affirmation that I am an informed individual, truth be told, most of the time I just delete it without reading a single word because I know the heartache and depression that are awaiting in the headlines. I tell myself that I am insulating myself from things that don’t really matter to my immediate reality, but I often wonder if that buffer is just the intellectual equivelant of sticking my fingers in my ears and singing Mary Had a Little Lamb.
I am nearing a place in my writing career where I have to either start putting things out into the world for agents and editors to say, "NO!" or acknowledge that this is just a fun hobby I do when I am bored. I'm not sure that my tender little heart can take something as crushing as a rejection letter, but I have seen the photos of mountains made out of letters collected over the years from really fantastic writers. I know it is part of the journey, the initial and potentially never ending hurdles between where I am and my dream come true. So where is the line? Where is the place where you stop being cautious and self-nurturing, and become the ostrich with your head buried in the sand while everyone stands around staring at your backside?
I was listening to a fantastic webinar by James Scott Bell last week and one of the listeners asked a rather remarkable question. She wanted to know, after amassing a stack of rejections some of which had be less than complimentary, when do you give up? Mr. Bell verbally dog paddled for a moment or two and then said (to paraphrase), "You have to answer the question, 'Are you a writer?' Then decide that this is something you are going to do for the rest of your life regardless of whether or not you get published."
I wanted to latch onto this idea so hard and just never let go. How freeing right? "I am a writer because I like to write and it never matters if I ever get published because this is who I am and what I do!" It sounds so great. But what if it is just more padding on the rubber room? What if I am sending junk out into the world and the reason for the forthcoming no’s is that I am just not good? What if I am deluding myself by holding fast to the belief that I am a writer, when really I should be doing other things?
I can’t imagine that I am alone in tackling this particular gremlin. So what helps you along in your creative pursuits, silver linings or the cold rain of reality?
Anika Arrington Necessary Nurture


  1. Wow--that was great, Anika!!! Love the analogy and you aren't the only one that cries at Hallmark card commercials...I am the biggest baby. LOL Thanks for the post. Very thought provoking. My motto has become--Never give up- Never surrender. If I'm going to write---I'm going to keep writing.

  2. I loved the encouraging words in this post! And like Valerie, I say NEVER GIVE UP. Have I wanted to quit and say what's the use? Yes! Especially when I receive the rejection letter, no matter how nice the rejection was. But I'm not quitting. I'm not!