Okay, first up – an apology.
You’re stuck with me for this weeks newsletter blog post – and yes it will involve Star Wars and yes it will involve GIFs (see above!) of Obi-Wan!
Some days you feel like you could take on Mace Windu and Master Yoda at the same time, in a lightsaber duel, one in each hand, and win!
Other days, you feel like the small alien invertebrate devoured by Jabba…
Even if you hate Star Wars, you get the drift. Writing life has more ups and downs than a Type 1 diabetics glucose levels! (PS it’s Diabetes Awareness Month, so if you don’t know your Type 1 from your Type 2, or your glucose from your glycogen, then there’s no time like the present! There, I’ve done my bit for the cause!)
And how we handle those says a lot about whether we are actually in this for the long haul.
In the last week, two of my close writing friends have made significant strides on their writing journey, and it’s been exhilarating gliding along in their slipstream and drinking in the excitement that comes with it. As writers, we live in a desert, where good news is an oasis – feeling out of reach, rarely seen but often imagined.
But that’s all the more reason to drink in the water and eat the fruit when you get there, to keep you fuelled during the long droughts between.
So, enough metaphors, let’s talk about actual writing things.
Last month, I was long listed for the bi-annual Undiscovered Voices award run by SCBWI. This is actually the 2nd time it had happened for me, as I was also longlisted with a different book in 2018, but had to withdraw as I’d just signed with an agent. I am no longer with the agent, and I have also turned down two publishing deals since – I’ll do a blog post one day on NOT ACCEPTING THE FIRST OFFER THAT COMES YOUR WAY – and have come full circle back to where I was. So, have I made no progress in the last 2 years? It’s a question I ask myself a lot.
Yay! 🎉 I am so happy about this – there’s a long story attached to this, but for now I’m so delighted!
— Stuart White (@StuartWhiteWM) October 16, 2019
In between the longlistings, a lot has happened, but the positive has been negligible. I have focused less on my own writing, and much more on helping others (therein lie the positives). From writing 2k a night, Monday to Thursday, to writing about 20k total in 2019. I rarely read and I definitely feel like my craft knowledge and technique has waned.
BUT (and it’s always darkest before the dawn) I sense a corner has been turned. I feel ready to more fully commit myself back to my own writing (while not neglecting WM, don’t worry!) and by doing so, increasing my own sense of achievement and self-worth (both so important for writers).
I have persisted through some of the darkest days both in my writing life and my personal life (some of you will know but I’ve spent much of the last 2 years very ill with with 2 chronic, autoimmune illnesses), and I am absolutely stronger because of it.
I am much more ready to embrace the tough, low times that come with being a writer – the rejection, the hard, endless graft, the lack of progress, the lack of time, the sense that nothing you ever write will ever be good, ever again!
But I’ve also gained a sense of perspective – my own self-worth and happiness is not defined solely by my writing output or progression, it is defined by how I feel about myself – and for picking up a pen, or switching on that laptop, each of us should feel good about ourselves – on a daily basis.
Because it will not always be the good times, in fact it might rarely be, but when they come along, you drink those in, and use them to help you through the long sands of Tattoine!
(See I got back to Star Wars in the end!)
And when the shortlist is announced for UV 2020, and my name isn’t on the list for the anthology – sure I’ll be disappointed…but will it stop me, or will I keep marching through the sand, keeping my head down, taking one metaphorical (I’ve take this too far, right??) step at a time! I feel certain it will be the latter…
So have I made progress? I think so. My own view is always this – that as long as you’re always willing to listen and learn, to keep striving for better and to keep writing, that we will all get there in the end. We’re not talking 6 figure book deals for all, but I mean that sense of self-worth and happiness. That comes from writing (or after having written!!!) and there’s no level of rejection, self-doubt or anything else that can stop you if you JUST KEEP WRITING!
Please, please, keep writing.
DO. OR DO NOT. THERE IS NO TRY. ✍️