It’s winter break, y’all. And I feel like taking some time off from everything. I still have essays left to grade, art projects and drama monologues to score, and plans to write for next week. But for the moment, I’m putting it all off for one more day.
Here in Spokane we’re forecasted for quite the winter storm tomorrow, so I plan to curl up with some hot tea and finish the things on my teacher’s winter break to-do list, and then, if I can manage it, I will work on some writing projects.
I started this project with two purposes: one, to help with my anxiety and depression, and two, to write consistently and purposefully in an effort to spark my commitment to and desire for carving a path for my words. For more than twenty weeks I have done something new and written about it. In mid-October, I wrote about how this project really has been working on helping me deal with mental health issues. Even I am surprised by how much it has helped. But has it helped with the other purpose? The one in which I attempt to rekindle my desire to write, perhaps even full-time someday?
The new thing I did this past week was I submitted a piece for publication. Over the summer I wrote a piece about what it was like to go through my birthday without my mother in my life for the first time. The piece was initially supposed to be about the raw feelings of being motherless, but as I wrote, the piece morphed into being about the journey of being motherless and childless. It bobs and weaves, and it goes places that surprised me when I wrote it, and continue to be surprising upon revisions. I really like the piece. I think it’s good. (I never say that about most of my own work, because we are always our own worst critics.)
So why did it take me so long to submit it anywhere? Well, because I was scared, and still am, of rejection. It’s not as though rejection as a writer is new to me. From 2009 to 2011, I consistently sent out work. My poetry appeared in well-respected journals, and I was featured in a collection of essays that was well-reviewed and a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. But that was the exception, not the rule. Certainly there were at least four times as many rejections as acceptances. But I persevered.
Then my stepfather died. Someday I will write a longform piece on what it’s like to mourn your abuser, but this is not that day. Suffice to say, I stopped writing, I stopped submitting, I stopped existing. I was lucky if I got out of bed. And that’s how I functioned–I did what was necessary to survive and only that for many months.
Something broke in me, and I’m only now starting to understand what happened and why it so completely and utterly changed me and my ability to write. I lost motivation, confidence, and most importantly, I lost my discipline.
Writing is hard. It is emotionally taxing and time-consuming, and it rarely pays. I gave up, went to work full-time, and now it’s six years later and I’m back at square one.
I submitted an essay I’ve worked on for many months to a publication I adore, and I will likely send it elsewhere as well. It may be rejected everywhere I send it, but I took the first step, and that’s enough for now.
I hope you’re taking care of yourselves, sweet peas. The holidays can be the worst time of the year for many of us. I see you. It’s okay to take this time to yourself. I know I will.