Stumbling Blocks

Monday, March 05, 2018
I had hoped to offer some wonderful words of writing wisdom in this blog post, but I’m afraid I don’t have much. After starting out the week with high hopes, I floundered, and floundered again.

First, I presented a lofty goal to my accountability group, and as of this writing, I haven’t met it. Then, after telling myself I was going to quit worrying about some issues my oldest child is facing, I didn’t quit worrying. I worried, and worried, and cried, and lost yet another night’s sleep, after which I had to wake up bright and early the next morning and go to work. I also repeatedly and obsessively checked my e-mail because I knew I would be hearing back from the results of a writing competition I entered a few months ago. After finding unexpected success in a recent fiction-writing contest, I had high hopes. Perhaps they were unrealistic hopes, and I spent too much time worrying about whether or not I had done well. I’ve also fallen behind on my personal writing blog and can’t even bring myself to start planning out the next few weeks’ content.

I channeled anxiety and nervous energy in an unhealthy way. Instead of sitting down at my computer and trying to write through it, I turned away from the words that usually bring me comfort. I let the self-doubt creep in, and I let those negative voices in my head nestle their way deep into my psyche. I let them win. Because of that, I wasn’t surprised when I received my standard “thank you for entering the competition, but . . .” e-mail.

It took me a few days, but I’m tunneling my way out of it. I reminded myself that fiction judging is subjective. That’s why some agents will take on a project in a heartbeat while another may say “Meh. Not really for me.” I’ve had several different freelance assignments come to me in the past few weeks, too, so there are still editors who want to work with me. I took myself to see my theatre company’s production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” and I let the tears flow throughout the second act.

Tomorrow is another day, though. I will wake up tomorrow, pour myself a strong cup of coffee, and remind myself how far I have come. The writing journey is full of ups and downs, and my own is no different.

Have you had any stumbling blocks in your writing path lately? How did you deal with them?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who also blogs at Her short story, “The Polaroid,” placed first in the Suspense/Thriller category of the 2017 Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--I wrote the suckiest query letter yesterday. I posted today, but it was a month ago when I posted previously. I have lots of papers to grade... and keep putting it off.

You might stand still or take a couple steps back, but then keep moving forward.

Margo Dill said...

I think it's helpful when we share moments like this because it gives people hope. You are so right: the writing journey is definitely full of ups and downs.

Diane said...

Hi Renee,

I second Margo. We get tips, we get "you should," we get all kinds of advice. To see that it's not always Sunshine and lollipops is refreshing. Because behind every tip post and every encouragement post, I visualize someone who is Super Writer. I see all the ways I'm not there. This is honest and raw and beautifully encouraging. You show the stumbles and you show that you keep moving forward.
Thank you!

Mary Ann Cortez said...

Thanks for posting this. I've been feeling the same way. Ive been working really hard on my writing lately and so far I'm still feeling really inadequate. But everyday I pick up the pen and write. Because what else am I going to do? I can't stop.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Renee ~ Thank you for sharing this gorgeously written post. I know so many of us can relate. Even when I get an amazing writing assignment, I ask myself, Why on earth would they pick me? And then the overwhelming anxiety of perfectionism slips in. When I start to think these things, I use positive replacement affirmations. I can do it...I am good enough. And I reprioritize. If your blog is too much right now, then slow down the posting schedule or give yourself a break. And yes, contest judging is SO're a judge, you know this. Your story will find a home. BTW, I'd love to read your 1st place story, "The polaroid." Is it posted online?

Keep that pen moving, Renee! We're here for you. xo

KAlan said...

It's very timely to read about the phenomenon of "dashed hopes." We don't discuss that very often; we discuss frustrations and other stumbling blocks, but I especially empathize with your feelings of being lifted up by a publication or contest victory, only to return afterward to the usual drudgery. Perhaps it is human nature to think that good news will change everything, but of course it rarely does. It is just good news: to be appreciated and celebrated as a product of your efforts. Only continuing the struggle will bring another result.

Renee Roberson said...

Wow, thanks so much for all the support, everyone! I was so afraid this post would come across as too whiney, but it sounds like everyone here can relate.

Sioux--Glad to know I'm not the only one juggling with this whole balance thing! I'm sure your query letter did not suck, but I also find those so difficult to write. Last week was rough, but I'm determined to bounce back this week.

Margo--Thank you for saying posts like this give people hope. Juggling parenting and working full-time along with trying to get published are stumbling blocks all in themselves!

Diane--Ha ha! I'm definitely no super writer. In fact, I was rejected by two low-residency MFA programs a few years ago, and I'm pretty sure it was because I hadn't been published in tons of literary journals or won a lot of prestigious competitions. I took those rejections and told myself they would be all the more meaningful when I do publish a novel one day!

M.A.--Yes, you must continue to write. It won't always turn out the way you want it to, but every page that doesn't work gets you even closer to a page that will!

Angela--Thank you so much. I know there is some reprioritizing that needs to be done for sure. It helps to have so many supportive people cheering me on from the sidelines! "The Polaroid" is supposed to run online once the May/June issue comes out, and I think they may do a roundtable interview with some of the winners because I had to answer a questionnaire. I can e-mail it to you if you want to read it before then!

Keith--You hit the nail right on the head with the "dashed hopes" comment. I did experience the euphoria after doing well in that contest so I was riding a wave and hoping I could duplicate that same success. Obviously I need to keep working hard and not put all my eggs in one basket.

Mary Horner said...

I have been having these issues for the past year, with a lot going on with my family and work. Something just ended to free up some time so I'm hoping to be more productive, but still beat myself up for not being able to handle it better. I wish I had the answer, but sometimes we just have to keep going, knowing it will get better.

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