Wednesday, August 24, 2011

River of Dreams is Salty

Yesterday I took two of my kids to the doc for their yearly checkups. My youngest, Jojo, is four and it was time to get his vaccines up to date. Which means 5 shots.

"Jojo, you're going to get some shots today, okay?" Which is not really a question. It's an offer he can't refuse.

Jojo stares at me, his eyes wide with his own peculiar expression of stoic fear.

"I'm not sure how many shots, maybe 3 or 4." The doctor had said they might be able to combine some of the shots, so I was banking on that. "They give you shots because kids used to get a lot of diseases that would make them really sick. But now we get shots and people don't get sick and die."

Jojo is sinking back in the chair as I talk, his shoulders scrunching up higher and higher. I don't stop because this child does better with information. He needs to prepare.

"It will hurt for a minute, like a pinch, and then it won't hurt so much."

Then we wait. After another few minutes, about the time that I'm thinking that I told Jojo too soon, and he's just getting more and more anxious, two nurses come in. They explain that he can only get two shots.

"Isn't that great?" I say. "Only two shots! Lucky boy!"

Jojo's shoulders scrunch higher. I can't see his neck anymore.

I put him up on the table, and the nurses stand on each side of him, preparing to do both at once. I hold his little hands in mine and he lays back on the pillow when the nurse asks him to.

"One, two, three." The syringes go into his arms, his eyes are quick and wide with fear. Not a sound escapes him. His little fingers are warm and limp in mine.

The nurses put on his bandaids and leave, and I pick him up. He's been so brave. He didn't even cry.

I sit in the chair and hold him, and pressing his head against my shoulder. I tell him I'm sorry it hurt. I'm sorry we had to do that.

And he cries. Not loud, not a lot, but the tears come.

When I stand up and set him on his feet a minute later, the wounded look is gone. We go to the desk on the way out, and he doesn't want the nurses to talk to him, but by the time I've checked out, he's willing to give a high five to one and let them see his Matchbox car. He's okay.

Can I work in a writing lesson? Why yes, I think I will.

Querying stinks. Most of us get rejection after rejection. I stopped crying about rejections a while ago. Rejection was expected. Rejection was not a surprise.

I send out letters hoping for the best, but wheneever I open an email from an agent now, I am telling myself not to expect too much. It's a rejection, it's a rejection...and then when it is, I'm not as disappointed. And if it's a request, then I'm happily surprised, right?

Kind of.

Last week it hit me how hard this is, how tired I am of being good but not good enough. I cried for all the rejections I'd been so brave about. And the thoughts started churning.

Why am I even putting myself through this? What's the point? Why not just write for myself and forget being published?

I'm trying to find that magical mental state where I'm motivated to work hard, but not stressed about how the end result will be received. Having some beta readers in the wings helps a little, but I'm feeling kind of paralyzed right now. Still working, but it's hard. There's a lot of resistance and fear going on.

But I've realized that if I don't allow myself to hope, then a lot of the joy of writing gets shut down as well. I can't feel deeply about my writing without being open to the pain of rejection also.

It's a price I'm willing to pay.

How do you deal? Any tips? Head games to recommend? ;)
Have a great day and happy writing!


  1. I'm right there with you, Kelly. If I hear one more agent say, "Wow, this revision is AWESOME, but..." I think I might something really terrible:) Or maybe I'll just sigh and think to myself, "These agents probably think they're all being so original. Little do they know these are the words they all use."

    I've struggled with this for the last couple of weeks, and over the weekend, I was finally able to get to a good place again. The thing that finally helped was the adult session of stake conference:) Several women shared some amazing talks on overcoming adversity through the atonement of Jesus Christ, and I realized that maybe this is the adversity God is putting in my life right now to help me learn some lessons. I'll definitely take this adversity over the kind these wonderful women were describing. (The first has a son with ongoing - and life-threatening - medical problems, and the second's husband of thirty years died earlier this year after battling a rare kidney disease.) Maybe, if I can finally figure out what He's trying to teach me, I can finally move on from this particular trial:)

    (Interestingly, the rejection only makes me want to write more. I figure it's not going to be Book A, so I'd better throw everything I've got into Book B. About a month ago, I got a really tough rejection (I believe I told you about that one), and since then, I've written nearly 35,000 new words. And I was out of town one of those weeks. I'm flying through Steve!)

    Hang in there, Kelly. For what it's worth, I really appreciate having someone to ride the query-go-round with.

  2. It's true what you say about the joy of writing opening us up to pain. It brings to mind the saying "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never loved at all." Why is it better? Beats me. But in the long run, it is.

    As for head games, I recently made a file to collect positive comments about my writing. (Some of yours are in there.) And I'm finally ready to start reading WAYS TO FALL again. If it keeps going like the first fifty pages did, I'll have TONS of nice things to say.

  3. I think every writer can relate to what you've so eloquently described here, Kelly. Hang in there! I like your shot analogy, too. To take it further, I think the rejections help us build immunities to the REAL critics when we finally are published. We develop a thicker skin.

    Anyway, keep up the good work. You're a wonderful writer and you will make it if you keep going! :)


  4. Hey Krista- thanks so much for your thoughts. I can just see us on a merry-go-round (I'm on a zebra, like they have at our zoo.) and it's so nice to have friends to commiserate with. And you rock- 35k in a month? That's awesome! That's where I want to be.

    Ben- I'm honored to be in your file and I really loved Drivers. I look forward to your crits...and if you could tell me why I'm getting rejected, I'd appreciate it;)

    Amy-See, I was thinking my skin was thick enough! The thought of crits reviewing my book gives me hives, so maybe I'm not there yet;) Thanks for the encouragement- I have some awesomely talented blog readers, I must say!

  5. I haven't sent out any queries, but this must be awful! You are talented and I believe you will be published someday. This may be God's way of preparing you for the reality of having a published book such as the feeling of 'being naked' when the public reads WAYS TO FALL.

    I am frustrated with the disruptions of my editing with all the family illness in my life, but it reminds me of what/who is important at this time and my manuscript will wait for me. When I'm really annoyed, I watch the news and remember how good my life is despite everything...

  6. Hey Jen- tanks for the support:) I know just what you mean about life getting in the way, and I hope your family can get healthy for a while- esp Jim's dad.

    And it's really easy right now to watch the news and realize that my life is actually pretty amazing!