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?
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!
Glutton for Punishment?
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