Rejected and Discouraged and That’s Okay

Hello there!  It’s almost the new year, so I should probably be writing about resolutions and all of that good stuff, but no.  I don’t do the whole “New Year’s Resolution!” thing.  Honestly, all they are 99.9% of the time are promises that aren’t followed through on.  Yeah… I’ll pass.  Instead, I’m going to be a bit of a downer and ramble for a while about how rejection and self-doubt are pretty much the norm for a writer.  But that’s okay.  It’s not the end of the world.

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Oh, Calvin.  Never change.

 

So, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I haven’t written anything aside from blog posts and a measly 200 words this month.  And no, I have no plans to remedy that in the next few days.  Why?  Because, I reached a point where I was feeling utterly discouraged and hit that “what’s the point?” wall.  For everyone who’s wondering if maybe I’m depressed, no.  It’s completely different.  It’s that angry “want to punch someone (except it’s not really anyone’s fault, so I have no one to direct said anger at) in the reproductive organs” type of feeling.  For me, at least.  Super annoying, right?

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Face works, too.  Not going to lie, this is oddly cathartic to watch.

 

 Nothing big happened to make me feel this way, it was just an accumulation of all the little things.  I suppose the most obvious thing would be the rejection slips that keep coming in from the places I submit short stories to.  I know they’re the hardest part of this whole writing gig for a lot of people, and yeah, I admit that sometimes they hurt, but I was ready for that going in.  It wasn’t until I got one last month (when I was already starting to feel the rage build) that it really got to me.  I had to stop and remind myself that rejection doesn’t equal failure.  My manuscript probably wasn’t even read!  Not that that makes any of this better, but it most likely sat in a slush pile for six months (and that’s a quick response time) only to have someone glance at the first sentence (if that much) and hit the reject button.  Call me cynical, but that’s how I picture it.

Speaking of six months in a slush pile, that’s what gets to me the most: the waiting.  Whether you’re sending it to a magazine or an agent or just your best writer pal for feedback, writing is mostly a waiting game.  Contrary to my behavior, I’m actually an exceedingly impatient person.  I was raised to get things done in a timely manner, to always meet deadlines, yadda yadda.  You know that whole “if you’re only five minutes early, you’re late” thing?  That.  So, the waiting gets to me.  I start thinking things must really suck (which is fine, just tell me that so I can fix it or move on).  But people in the writing field, like many creative folks, seem to have no concept of the movement of time outside of their stories.  I’m going to have to get used to that.  But, for now, I’m wallowing in the self-doubt it causes.

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Yes!

 

But you know what?  It’s okay to wallow sometimes.  Taking a long break can be helpful.  Recharging is needed.  In the past month, I’ve tweaked the plot on my novel-in-progress, come up with two ideas for other novels (possibly screenplays, I haven’t decided), and finally took the time to look at my screenplay-in-progress (which I’m thinking about getting back to in January).  I think I just needed some time to refuel.  In other words, know when to push through the pity party and when to embrace it.

I’ll see you next year!

Season’s Greetings and Songs

Merry (almost) Christmas!  I don’t have much to talk about this week, so I thought I would share some of my favorite songs to listen to around this time of year.  They’re not all Christmas songs, some just feel right about now.  Are there any songs you can’t go without during the holiday season?

First up, Gayla Peevey’s I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.

 I don’t really know why, but it’s been one of my favorites since I was a kid.  For a while, I even wanted a hippopotamus, but they’re actually pretty deadly, so I changed my mind.

Next is Nakashima Mika’s Yuki no Hana (Snow Flower).

It’s not a Christmas song or anything, just a pretty wintry song.  It’s been so long since I’ve looked up the lyrics that I can’t even tell you what it’s about anymore.  Shame on me.  I chose a live version because it’s what I like, no other reason.

Sinatra’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Okay, maybe it doesn’t have to be this particular song, but you know those iconic Christmas songs sung by Frankie and Dean Martin and the like?  Yeah, those kinds of songs.

And, of course no Christmas is complete without the Royal Guardsmen’s Snoopy’s Christmas.

Who doesn’t love that song?  It’s impossible not to like it.

I left out tons of songs, I know, but this is a start.  There’s the music from How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol and a bunch of others I’m surely forgetting.  What are your favorites?   Go ahead and send me a link!

Have a merry Christmas!  I’ll be back once more before the new year.  See you then.

On Labels as Identities

Hello, hello!  I’m back and (mostly) better.  Lately, my posts have been relatively light and fluffy, but today I want to ramble a little about another touchy subject: labels as identities.  What I mean by “labels as identities” is all of those terms we use to answer that infuriatingly unanswerable question, “who are you?”  Well, I’m Shawna!  But, who is Shawna? … How the hell am I supposed to know?

l-88537A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted an article on Facebook about how the labels “heterosexual” and “homosexual” are more detrimental than not, which got me to thinking.  I don’t know if I actually agreed with much of the article, but I certainly do think that the plethora of labels people feel the need to use to identify themselves is becoming harmful.  Rather than bringing us closer together, these labels are causing further divides.  I suppose I should probably explain some of my thought process and hope it makes things clearer.

First, let me say that in my reasoning, it’s important to remember that these labels or identities or whatever you want to call them ultimately define only what we are, not who we are.  For example, I tend to use the term “cripple” as one of my labels.  It’s what I am, but it’s not who I am.  Who I am as a person has more to do with my preference towards “cripple” instead of the PC term of the week (I think it’s “differently abled” at the moment or something like that), than me being crippled has to do with who I am.  It’s simply my adjective of choice.  One of so many adjectives that it’s getting really hard to keep everything straight.

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The who is so much more than anything a label can define.  It’s something unexplainable. Humans have this insatiable desire to give everything a name or some form of identification.  We can’t be satisfied with general terminology, we have to be exact.  You don’t believe me?  Just think of the color red.  How many different words can you think of that describe a shade of red?  Scarlet, crimson, rose, blood, ruby, garnet, vermillion… the list goes on.  Now, apply that to people.  Think of the currently expanding list of gender and sexual identities, not to mention all of the random adjectives we apply to all of the other aspects of ourselves.  We use these labels and identities to try to explain something that is indescribable. And normally, that’s fine. But in today’s society, we’ve become so obsessed with telling people what we are that we forget to show them who we are.  And I think that’s really sad.

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Labels, like beauty, are relative.

In other words, I guess what I’m trying to say is that we need to stop worrying about who’s black or white or Christian or Muslim or liberal or conservative or any of that, and start focusing on who people really are.  Start worrying about whether people are asshats (another label, I know, but you get the point) or not.  If they are, none of the rest of that stuff will redeem them, and if they aren’t, well nothing else really matters.  Be who you are and don’t worry about what some label says you have to be.  That’s all.

Getting into the Holiday Spirit

Hello, hello!  Thanksgiving is over (though leftovers still remain), so it’s officially time to get into the holiday spirit.  In fact, just this past Monday, my minion (he knows who he is) posted on Facebook that people were talking to him and smiling at his job (apparently this is unusual behavior).  Our exchange went something like this:

Me: “It’s called the holiday spirit. You’re in for about a month of it.
Him: “Ack! Does it wash off???
Me: “No. And it’s highly contagious.

Later that evening, he and his family were supposed to join Dad and I for SMU’s Celebration of Lights.  The minion ended up having to work, so we kidnapped his kids and girlfriend and took them anyway.  ^__^

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Forgot the camera, so all of these pictures are stolen from the link above.

The Celebration of Lights was one of very few events I actually enjoyed attending as a student (and still enjoy as an alumna).  It takes place on the front steps of Dallas Hall.  People gather in the quad and sing along to Christmas carols.  President Turner reads the Christmas story (which I still think Linus does better).  And they light up the tree for the first time.  It’s just a really nice way to start off the season.  The free cocoa and cookies are a bonus.

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The performances all change a little each year.  Students and student groups volunteer to sing different carols, so things rotate as people graduate and new people enroll.  Some are better than others, but SMU has a decent music program, so everyone is (usually) pretty good.

However, I suppose my favorite part of the celebration is the fact that something always goes wrong.  Little things.  One year, the microphones kept cutting off.  This year, they were supposed to the flip the lights on after the first verse of Silent Night (like usual), but apparently the switch flipper wasn’t paying attention or they had technical difficulties, because the lights didn’t come on until the song was almost over.  Not to mention the fact that they always run just a couple of minutes late (it wouldn’t be SMU if things started on time).

Don’t get me wrong, all of that was entirely serious.  I go to this thing knowing that there will be something worth laughing about each year.  That’s why I enjoy it.  That sounds kind of mean now that I think about it, but it’s true.  The hiccups make it exciting, even though I’m sure all of the people who are “back stage,” so to speak, are freaking out about this stuff.

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All in all, it’s a nice way to open the holiday season.  Plus, the kids seem to have a good time.  It’s open to the community, so if you’re in the Dallas area next year, consider checking it out (or drive by some time between now and January 3rd while you’re out oohing and ahhing at all the lights to get a look).

I hope the holiday cheer finds you soon, if it hasn’t already!  See you next week.