This week, no, this year, I have been met with more disappointment in my professional life than I know what to do with. Jobs I was certain I had -slipped through my fingers, publishers I was sure would offer-passed, everything I thought would happen, the plan I had dreamed in my mind for myself, is gone. Each week there are rejection slips in my inbox, each month there’s another person/publisher/editor/chairperson telling me I’m not good enough, my writing isn’t good enough, my credentials aren’t good enough. This is the life of so many of us who write and teach or teach and write. It’s what you sign on for when you decide to become a writer. It’s not just my experience, this trampling of ego echoes through the masses, I know that, it’s just so, so, so…. humbling. And before you send me hate mail, or call me a whiner, yes, I know there are writers who are way more talented than myself who have been plugging away for twenty-some odd years without catching a break. This is not a competition. This is just me, telling you, how I plan to deal with this influx of negative energy.
I’ve been here before. After my divorce it was the same feeling only the destruction and utter disappointment was happening in my personal life. I had broken up with my ex to search for a better life, a better mate, a better fit, and I was finding…well, not that. So I slowly began to work on the things I could control. I began to exercise, lose weight, read more, focus on my job, and in the end, I was better for it. More importantly, I took the risk of leaving a bad yet comfortable relationship in hopes of finding something more, and in the (very) long run, it paid off.
Four years ago, I took another risk. I promised my husband that if he supported my decision to go back to school, it would pay off someday. I told my kids as I dropped them off at daycare every morning so that I could finish my MFA, that this would all be worth it someday. Now, that someday seems to be fading further and further into the distance. I know it will come, the risk will pay off, but it’s getting harder and harder to keep looking up. But these are things I have no control over. I can’t control the fact that publishers and editors don’t think a book about a fat girl is going to sell right now. I can’t control the fact that the job market is in the toilet. The only thing I can control is me, and what I do with my life and my family, my writing.
In honor of this, I have decided that I’m going to do what I have done in the past at every lull in life. I have reinvented myself more than once, and I’m ready to do it again. I’m going to commit to doing three things everyday. If I can do this for a month, I will add another. So, just in time for April, I’m asking you, too, to make a list of three things you can do everyday to nourish your mind, body, and spirit. Here are mine:
Mind: I’m going to read for thirty minutes a day (at least.) My life right now is full of “too busy to read.” That needs to change.
Body: I’m going to drink 100 ounces of water each day.
Spirit: I’m going to spend an hour a day doing something my kids love. Playing Candyland, reading Pinkalicious, building with Legos. Whatever they want, one hour. That’s the deal.
These three small things will help me to feel better about myself, connect me with my children, help hydrate my body after a long, cold winter, and help my writing by reading great stories every day.
These are my three things. I will do them every day in April. This may not solve my problem, but it helps to exercise control over something. By the end of April, I will have read, played, and hydrated myself to a better frame of mind. Hopefully.