This sharply dressed gentleman to my left is my very good friend, Teddy.
Teddy came into my life a few years ago when I was (understatement) in a work phase of my career: struggling with writing, rejections, balance, voice…everything, really. I was doing my best to be brave and macho, stiff upper lip and bravado over bravery.
One day, a good friend came, handed me my froggy little friend, and said, “You have to kiss a lot of frogs to get your prince.”
And though I already loved my friend, I loved her even more for her simple act of kindness and support. Teddy hangs on my bulletin board and he is a tangible reminder to me that in this life, it’s about the effort not the outcome.
Too often, as writers, we look for the tangible show of our success–the contract, the great review, the huge royalty check. We think our value hinges on the outcome. What my friend reminded me was that success is in the effort. We can’t control the outcome. We can’t guarantee large sales any more than we can promise a plentiful crop to farmers.
My friend–and really, everyone in my life–could care less about where my sales are or how many contracts I’ve signed. They’re on the sidelines, cheering me on for the sheer fact that I got into the ring and put on my gloves. They’re thrilled I decided to lace up. Whether I win or not is of no consequence.
As 2013 begins, I’m going to need to hold to this lesson. By nature, I’m an over-achieving, anal-retentive, perfectionist neurotic (but I have a good sense of humour and share my chocolate, so it all works out in the end). It’s very hard for me to be proud for my effort. I’m all about the destination, not the journey (the journey?! THE JOURNEY?! Lord, why am I on a train if not to get to my destination?!) …and I ended 2012 by looking at all my unfinished manuscripts, and not feeling particularly great as the sheer number of them began to stack up.
For those of us who aren’t great at internal satisfaction and those of us writing amidst family/friendship disapproval, it’s hard to find joy in the effort and to laud ourselves for a job well done when the rejections/bad reviews pour in, but this is 2013.
It’s time for us to stop trash talking ourselves. It’s time to man up by being gentle, to become a support group of three–me, myself, and I–and through being proud for just getting into the ring, start pounding away at that manuscript.