Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Mother of All Funks or Putting the Fun Back in DisFUNctional

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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ~ MarianneWilliamson

I haven’t blogged for a while. I have been trying to work myself out of a writing funk of Biblical proportions. So what have I been doing about it? Well, I’ve tried to read my way out of it and have read some awesome and some not-so-awesome books, but awesome or not, I've learned a lot along the way. I’ll be blogging about some of those books in future days. Lately I have been putting my butt in my office chair and staying there for good chunks of time, working on stuff. I’m making some progress and feel the veil lifting, but I still don’t feel I have dispelled the funk completely. But I ran across the above quote recently and thought it was well worth repeating. I don’t remember where I saw the quote, but it resonated with me. I think there’s a lot of truth in it. I don’t know anything about Marianne Williamson except that she is a self-help lecturer. You can look her up on line if you are so inclined. But I like the quote and it’s helping me to stay focused on overcoming the funk.

I went to a writers’ conference in the spring and submitted fifteen pages of my second novel for critique. Unfortunately, it was about then my writing funk began. An editor at a big house read my pages and gave me great comments – very encouraging with some specific suggestions. She said she would like to read more! We could submit up to forty pages. Heck. This is a great opportunity. I had six months to submit to her. I spent a lot of time thinking about what needed to change, what was useful for my story, and what wasn’t. I liked most of what she suggested. I thought it would make my story stronger. But I was in a funk and had trouble working on it. I had a chance to workshop the opening five pages with some published writers and did that. Things got better and so did my story. I worked on it in fits and starts. I finally decided it was just about ready and spend a day polishing, trimming, adding, cutting, pasting, moving things around, and printed it and sent it with a lovely letter before I lost my nerve.

Did I wait a couple of days and give it one more careful read before I mailed it? No. I was done. Did I run it past my critique group one more time? Did I ask my brilliant daughter Maggie or my terrific sister Tudy, two wonderful editors, to read it one more time? Did I even ask my sweet Baboo to give it a quick look? No, no, and no. I sent it off and didn’t look at it again for a week…when I found the boneheaded mistake where I cut and pasted a sentence EXCEPT I forgot the cut part!!! So I had the same sentence beginning two paragraphs in a row. Did I do this unintentionally OR…is it just me being afraid of being powerful beyond all measure? Sometimes I wonder.

I now have an imprint of my keyboard across my forehead. This quite possibly could be a permanent condition. I haven’t heard back from the editor yet. I probably won’t for quite some time. If and when I do, I’ll post something here, but in the meanwhile, I have to wonder if I don’t sabotage myself sometimes in this business. So I’m going to be smarter about this. I’m going to always ask for others to give me some feedback before I send stuff out. I’m going to open myself up to the good advice and experience of my careful editors and critique partners. I’m going to be more patient and more careful and more persistent. So future submissions will be better and give me a greater chance for success. Maybe it’s time for me to let my little light shine. Thanks, Marianne, wherever you are.

9 comments:

Ann Best said...

Isn't this our worst nightmare? That we do what you did? Which I've also done? Sent the thing out and then found a horrifying "mistake." Well, if it's really strong, I think a repeat like that won't matter. I surely hope so! And like you, when I'm in a writing funk, I read. In my opinion, this is "writing." Reading stirs my imagination. It can also take my mind off things that are troubling me. Blogging helps, too. Blogging is much easier than working on that story or novel. But at least I'm making connections. Whatever works...

I LOVE this quote youposted by Marianne Williamson. In fact, I'm going to copy this entire post to read when I'm feeling down. Thanks!
Ann Best, Memoir Author

Rosi said...

Well, thank you, Ann. I know I'm not alone in those frustrating mistakes, but it's nice of you to remind me. And thanks for the kind words. I hope this post helps you through a writing funk.

Michelle Fayard said...

Rosi, it can be heartbreaking to be in a funk and to hear that a writing friend is suffering through one. At least you are wise enough to know you just have to keep doing what comes next instead of giving in to it. Work and its resulting accomplishments truly are a savior.

Earlier this month I queried The Underground Gift with an editor. When I checked the bcc I sent to myself, I didn't see the requested .rtf attachment. I had to resend my message, but as I did so I wondered: "What if the attachment really did go through the first time and I don't need to send this message? I'm going to look disorganized. What if the attachment really didn't go through and, being overly concerned about what someone might think, I don't resend it?"

To be an artist is to doubt and to soar; the distance in between can feel insurmountable, but if anyone can travel this journey, I know it will be you.

Wishing you a great day!

Michelle

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Ah, Rosi, been there, done that. Maybe not the repeated sentences, but other glitches I wasn't patient enough to catch before sending something out. I agree with Michelle, though. If that's the worst that happened, I doubt it will blind them to a well-written manuscript.

Michelle, I loved your last paragraph. So true. Meanwhile, Rosi, I expect to see you published before very long.

Rosi said...

The kind words just keep on coming. Thanks, Michelle and Elizabeth, for the encouraging and empathetic words. I know this isn't the end of the world. In fact, maybe it's just the kick in the behind I needed to get me out of my funk. I've got some new things in the works and I'm getting stuff out the door.

Morgan said...

That is a great quote. At the same time, your cut and paste error sounds to me like the kind of mistake I would make at work when I was simply dying for a project to be over - which never happened if I sent it out too early, because I would always have to fix the bugs.

In a lot of ways, writing uses more energy than my day job did, because a lot more of myself is involved.

And as far as funks go, this seems to be the season. I know at least four people in my two critique groups, who seem to have lost focus on the stories they were telling (I include myself in the count).

These are all very hard working writers - always reading and writing and thinking of writing even when doing something else. I'm beginning to think that is a part of the problem.

Rosi said...

I think you're right, Morgan. 'Tis the season. Several blogs I follow have had posts recently about taking breaks, summer doldrums, etc. I know I'm not alone. The good news is I had a very productive day and feel like I'm coming out of Funkville.

Margaret Duarte said...

Marianne Williamson is an inspiration, not only to writer, but to all who find themselves second-guessing themselves and their talent and worth. Often our writing can't be rushed. We have to take a break and wait for inspiration or serendipity or whatever it takes to get us moving again. Sometimes so much inspiration comes so fast you can hardly write it all down, and at other times you walk through a desert. I just spent 6 days, 10 hours each, revising my latest novel, deepening it with all the notes I had scribbled on index cards, my journal, and scraps of paper. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Patience has finally paid off. But it wasn't easy. Thanks, Rosi, for sharing.

Rosi said...

Thanks for dropping by, Margaret. Good on you for all that work on your novel. It will pay off. I was sorry to hear last night of the demise of the UCDavis Creative Writing program! 8-{