Monday, November 17, 2014

Humans aren't as good as we should be in our capacity to empathize with feelings and thoughts of others, be they humans or other animals on Earth. So maybe part of our formal education should be training in empathy. Imagine how different the world would be if, in fact, that were 'reading, writing, arithmetic, empathy.'

This last week I felt like I have been put through the proverbial literacy wringer. I have always heard that "we are our own worst critic."  This I believed to be true, until I joined a critique group. It was one of the best things I ever did. Then as I started reading through their critiques, and change requests I became skeptical.  
I looked forward to the writing conference this last weekend to better myself, my story, and my writing. I got a call to go into work, which made me miss the conference. I was disappointed.
As my week went on, I would check my email almost hourly, expecting to see an email from the publishing company that promised to get back within this timeline, I have been hoping with my heart and soul they would pick up my novel.  (still no word) Then I was explaining to a family member that I couldn't do something they were asking of me because I was too busy with edits, chapter meetings, my own writing, not to mention my own kids to take care of.  This seemed to upset the family member.  To them, it plainly was not a good enough excuse.
Then as if the literary universe hadn't thrown enough at me, another phone call with an upset person came.  And as I explained the same thing to them, they couldn't care less. Not only were my feelings hurt, but I started to question my own value as a writer.
Am I really my own worst critic? 
I decided I would push through and continue editing and writing.  One thing after another would pop up, or get in my way of doing what I truly love. I felt myself faltering onto a slippery path of self doubt. 
This is when avoiding social media is a good idea. One author friend after another started announcing books being picked up and being published, cover reveals, and offers towards their writing. That's when the slippery slope, became a mud slide.  A constant dirty converging of thoughts, self doubt and wanting to quit, started drowning me. I was no longer an author, just a struggling writer. 
More often than not, I feel that those around me don't understand me. I know that our interests are different, but just asking once how the writing is going, or saying "good job" is enough. I have noticed that we don't get noticed or appreciated among others unless they are in the same community as us. 
I finally broke down and confided in a friend. She explained that people don't understand the value of what people in our community do. This was her response, and I could never have said it better myself.

"I think we forget that we have a divine inheritance, right, and duty to create instead of destroy. Over time evil has pushed us to consume, consume, consume. We tear down those who create. We undervalue creative works. Maybe it is time to show that art, music and lit has equal value to the $150 dollar football game ticket. Maybe it time to stop letting Amazon under price authors. Maybe it is time to babysit for a friend who needs the once a week writing group to ease her soul and allow her to find her center. Maybe it is time to show your inner creative soul and allow others the same."
I may not be an amazing author yet, but without the encouragement and support of those around me I would never be able to get there. I am blessed to belong to a very supportive community. I love what I do.  It is a passion, and an addiction. No matter how hard I try to stop, I can't.  The stories and ideas won't stop coming.
What I learned this week is this. There will be times when I feel discouraged, and that quitting is my only option. IT'S NOT! I do it because it makes me feel good. My creative outlet is not the same as others. I love what I do. Criticizing myself is just another way of challenging myself.  Not only do I have to overcome all the other discouragers out there, but myself.  I need to get out of my own way and just write!
My solution, I put aside the critiques and decided to finish the story before looking at them again. I decided I can't please everyone, so someone is going to be upset, but I refuse to give up the one thing that stave's off the depression and will continue to ignore the persons request and do what I want.
I can only be happy for my author friends that are succeeding. I know that when my time does come, they will be just as thrilled for me.  If  you have a passion then share it, and don't ever let anyone under value your gifts.
 Now go be creative!!!

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