Antici…pation!

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I’m sitting here with ANTICIPATION right…now, as I type this. It’s a killer, no? Your brain bounces from how great the news will feel if it’s what you want to hear to how upset you might be if you do not get the answer you desire.

At this moment I’m waiting to hear about something important to me so I’ve become THAT person. The one who keeps checking their email over and over…worrying but not worrying…talking yourself out of the corner that says, “If this doesn’t work out, you’re a crappy writer.” Artists…be they writers, actors, singers, dancers, painters…you name it…we ALL get this way when it concerns validation of our art.

Let’s use an Olympic Athlete as an example. I know that part of them says, “Even if I get 4th place, I know that’s a big deal! That’s 4th in the whole WORLD! That’s a crazy amazing thing to accomplish!” The other part of their head is saying, “But if you don’t end up on that podium, where you worked so hard to be, where you land doesn’t count, it’s a fail.” It’s even possible they will feel like there is no justification to continue on with the sport. The idea of sleeping in, not working out every day for hours, and eating what they want probably sounds really good and they may consider that new road. Why? Because they, for a moment, are blind to why the hard work and the emotional drain was worth it if they didn’t land where they aimed.

As writers, we submit our work for others to judge and decide if we are good enough for publication. When we are turned down we are upset, understandably. I’ve had my work turned down a lot. I’ve shed tears over it multiple times. But here’s the thing we have to do. WE MUST GET BACK UP ON THE HORSE (so to speak)! You may be thinking, “Easy for you to say, you’ve written books that are out there, self-published though they may be.” It’s actually NOT easy for me to stay positive when word comes back on something in a way that’s not favorable and this week could be that week. Will I will be upset? Very.

So I have a rule. In fact, this rule applied to me when I was an actress as well and I want to encourage you to try and put it, or something like it, into play for yourself. What is it? Well…I allow myself one day to be sad/upset. I take that day and become Negative Nelly and mope about the rejection. I let myself say all the bad things spinning around in my head…but the next day I tell myself to let it go (no, don’t you dare sing the song!). We cannot create our art if we dwell on the negative. We just can’t. So when I didn’t get a role I wanted, I’d be upset, cry (cause that’s okay too), call my mom and/or best friend, then I slept it off like a bad drunken night. Sure, you might wake up a bit hung over from the sorrow and inner turmoil, the residual of the pain hanging on like a bad lover you’ve kicked to the curb, but you have to get your butt out of that bed and push forward.

Interestingly enough, I distinctly remember sitting on the steps of a building on Winthrop University’s campus my first semester there (as a junior) and all three shows for the fall semester were cast that one day. I’d gotten nothing. THREE shows had no place for me. I was wondering what the hell I was doing thinking I was a theater major, that’s for sure. But the next semester they did Brigadoon and the role I’d wanted so badly the first time I auditioned for this show (where I ended up in the chorus) back home in Michigan years previous in summer theater, was handed to me this time with pride. I won two awards for that performance of Meg Brockie and a picture of me performing it hung in the halls at the school for awhile. It was MY TIME. And it was worth the wait.

Anyway, back to writing…

I said to my cousin the other day, “I know I don’t need this to validate that I’m on the right track with this book, so why do I feel that way?” She said, “Think about how much you’ve already learned since submitting it and how much you’re going to learn in July. Even if it doesn’t get picked up, the book is going to be way better.” (Some quick clarification…In July I go to New Mexico to do research for a novel I’m going to write based on the story I’m waiting to hear on.) Then this morning, an actress friend of mine and I were catching up while walking the dogs and my anticipation stress came up. It was great to hear that she understood how I felt and we discussed the expectations we as artists, not just as writers, we put on ourselves. Each project we submit holds an immediate, heavy importance. It feels like it is the world, but it’s not. Why? Because there’s always something around the corner. I’m a firm believer that if something doesn’t work out, that it wasn’t meant to at this time. And though I do not see the reason, I know that I will in time. I apply this during the most horrible of things as well, like my parent’s divorce when I was only nineteen or twenty years old. I kept telling myself that there was a reason. All these years later I can tell you that I would need a whole other blog post to list all of the amazing things that came about as a direct result of that divorce (and my father’s re-marriage). 🙂

So if you, and I, get another rejection, we must remember this idea. It’s very important we get back on the horse, sit at the easel, get in front of the computer, step into another audition, show up for our next class…whatever it is that feeds us artistically, we need to go back to doing it. When? RIGHT AWAY! A rejection is not the end of the world. You may be auditioning for bloody Broadway (and if you are, good for you!)  and saying to yourself, “My career NEEDS this! If this doesn’t work out, I’m so screwed!” Thing is, there may be a really good reason that it doesn’t work out. For all you know, that show could flop or that publisher could go bankrupt or an opportunity could pop up that is tailor made for you that you’d have to turn down if you’d gotten the previous thing that had “rejected” you.

You may ask why I say to get back in the swing of things right away (be it writing or auditioning or whatever). Well, I’m going to tell you story to support why. The other night, my mother told me something I never knew (and gave me permission to put it on this blog post). She was writing back when I was in high school. If you remember correctly, that meant mailing large packages of paper with manuscripts and letters with postage costs. She was writing Contemporary Romance and an editor from a large house (I believe it was Silhouette Publishing) told her that the story didn’t fit the exact parameters of a romance, that it was more Women’s Literature (or Contemporary Lit). However, the editor loved the writing so much that she sent three books in the mail to my mom as examples of what “romance recipe” (that’s what I call it) they were looking for and told my mother that she didn’t need to do a query for them again, just send in the first three chapters of anything else she wrote in the genre. CAN YOU IMAGINE THIS? I’m still wrapping my head around it! Thing is though, my mother was dealing with the divorce, moving out, working, plus the stress that went with it all. She told herself she’d be able to get back to writing in a few months. But she never did. In fact, she didn’t write again for about twenty years. That breaks my heart. Don’t break your own, get back at it immediately.

That said…

As you (and I) sit with anticipation, waiting to hear back from that producer, director, agent, publisher, or whatever…remember, not everyone gets off their butt each day and tries to do what we do. So many don’t have the guts to put themselves out there and take the chance on being rejected. That alone makes you and I stronger than we know/admit. Some will say to let that rejection roll off you like water off a duck’s back. I say, if you can do that, great, but it’s okay to be human too. If you need a day to be upset, then be upset. Then let that crap go! Shove it out the window and do what you love IMMEDIATELY. Submit that work to someone else, audition for another show/company, or grab your art tools and create something new. When it’s your time, and it will be eventually if you keep at it (all those in my mother’s writing group back then became published), you’ll know you held on for that moment and it was worth it.

In closing I want to mention a woman I admire: Leanna Renee Hieber. This woman paints with words, folks. She got an amazing deal on a series and then the publisher closed its doors and she was left high and dry. She could have quit, but she didn’t. And now she not only has a new series out but her publisher also is launching/has launched her original series. She’s the real girl on fire, folks! She went through a lot of trials and tribulations, but she didn’t let that stop her…and we shouldn’t either.

“Every day is a creative act: a step closer to becoming who you want to be.” -Tom Hiddleston

So create each and every day that you can…become who you want to be…and rejection or no, keep at it, because someday that no will be a yes and that victory will taste so sweet.

 

That’s it for me this time around… write hard, bathe in imagination, and let’s all push past that negative voice, for they have nothing vital to say!

 

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3 comments to Antici…pation!

  • Amen, Tamsin! I’m right there with you on the “waiting” part. So I’ve been proactive in finding other options should the news not go as I really really really hope it will. And since something else that’s been keeping me from my writing has also finally gone away, I’m eager to get back to the page, working on another important project. And dealing with the residual stress by pushing myself at the gym.

    May we both get the news we seek! 😀

  • Ken

    This!! I’m waiting on a couple of things as well and I’ll catch myself daydreaming about what might happen, then day-mare-ing about what might happen. It helps to keep focused on what I’m working on at the moment. It helps keep me grounded and moving forward.

    Here’s hoping that we all get the good news we’re hoping for.

  • I’m so happy that you two liked the post! I did hear back on MY anticipation…it was not the outcome I wished for, but its probably for the best. I called my mom, had my cry, and said horrible things about my writing and myself (nothing negative about those who turned me down, though, for their reason was not a bad one and not unfounded) and I moved on. In fact, I made sure to sit down and edit that very night I got the news. GET ON THE HORSE! I hope the two of you got better news than I did, or if you did not, that you were able to push onward and foreword. Rejection is the biggest PITA to get passed because your opinion of yourself and your skill at your craft (be it writing or acting or whatever) is directly tied to if you even do it. So here’s to hoping no matter the outcome for you both (or those who read this post and didn’t comment) that you can take the lemons and make lemonade (as my grandma used to say). 🙂