Permission to Feel Your Feelings

| Friday, January 13, 2012
Today's Tune: Permafrost

I'm getting a little personal today. Some of you may be able to relate, some may not. I don't know. But it's something I want to talk about. And this is my blog so deal with it.

Let's discuss the squelching of feelings. I don't know if this is obvious in the way I post, but I have A LOT OF FEELINGS. Of course I do. I'm a Virgo, an optimist, a passivist, an artist, a sensitive soul, and all that blah blah blah. Which translates to: lots of feelings. I can occasionally get very silly on the Internet, but I don't often expose those SERIOUS EMOTIONS in their raw, unwashed glory. Most of my posts tend to err on the side of critical analysis or humor. I think about things before I post. I think about them so much.

I didn't used to be this way. I used to be that person who would react immediately and emotionally to things. Sometimes it was well received. Sometimes it bit me. Over time, I learned to keep my feelings more buttoned-up and not display my heart so openly on my sleeve. At least, not in public.

But there are things that happen in the life of writers. Things that we keep close to the chest and end up feeling massively guilty about. And I wanted to come out and tell myself, and anyone reading this, that having feelings is okay. It is okay to let emotion come in and wash over everything and nestle inside. It's what you do with that emotion that matters.

This is mostly coming from someplace I'm sure at least a few other people can relate to. Back in The Before, I used to get the weirdest sensation when someone in my blogging/Twitter/forum/whatever writing circle would achieve a publishing milestone. When someone announced they signed with an agent, or got a book deal, or sold rights in 20 countries, or had their novel optioned to be a film, or whatever whatever whatever... every time that would happen, I would feel panicked.

Don't get me wrong. I was honestly and truly overjoyed for them, and would tell them so. I'm not the sort of person who will put on a big smile and go "OH YAY CONGRATULATIONS" unless I absolutely mean it from the heart. But that joy and excitement never quite cancelled out the creepy little goblin who would come in the back door of my mind and whisper his creepy little words.

"What's the matter with you? Why isn't it YOU making this post?"

"You may as well quit now. You'll never get there. That person has skill and luck you'll never have."

"You'd better hurry. All the spots are going to be taken soon. That's one less agent, one less editor's list spot. Soon it'll be too late for you."

"Pffffft, look at you, loser. That person is 21. TWENTY-ONE. And they have a three-book deal. Give up now, you 28-year-old failure."

"You want that. You want that so badly. You can't have it. They have it, you don't. You suck."

I'm not the only person with a talking goblin living in their brain, right? ... right?

These doubts and emotions hid between my ribs, curling like teensy snakes around my insides. I'd slip into funks. I'm so glad I had my fiance, because he's one of the big reasons I kept pushing. I mean, at the time I'd get really peeved at him for going, "DO YOU WANT TO BE THAT JERK WHO ALWAYS TALKED ABOUT WRITING A BOOK AND NEVER DID IT?" But it got me moving again.

Here's the worst part about all this: I know better. I know that I don't suck. I know that I'm not a failure because someone younger than me got an agent before I did. I know it is completely ridiculous to think that there are a finite number of spots to fill and once they're full, nope, no more book deals, NOT EVER. I know this! But the feelings and emotions associated with this roller coaster don't go away.

So here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to pull a Jack-and-Kate-from-the-first-episode-of-Lost on myself. I'm going to say, "All right, self. Look. It's okay to have those doubts. It's okay to let them in. You go ahead and let them loose for a minute, and then you reel them right back in and say THAT'S IT. This isn't about never having negative feelings. It's about pushing past them. Over, and over, and over."


All that said, I'm pretty happy with where I am right at this moment. I'm a little terrified and a lot nervous and pretty tired and still vaguely neurotic, but I'm happy. And I like happy. So happy stays.

How do you deal with your writer goblins?


{ Christine } at: January 13, 2012 at 6:26 AM said...

First of all, wait till you hit 48 going on 49 and then feel old. Then have someone who is 60 and a multi-contest (big contests) winner who's been writing for 15 years tell you she's still trying to get published. I've been at this for 7 years and 4 of them seriously. There are days when I bang myself on the head for not starting sooner. But life was there: husband, kid, school volunteering, parents sick and dying, etc. There wasn't the right time to start. I wasn't ready. So I have to go with who and where I am now. I am actually going through a weird why am I doing this to myself? phase because I've been sooooo close and nearly published a few times. I've almost landed an agent. Then someone younger or less experienced gets what I want. Or worse, someone younger has what I want and she is not a very nice person and thinks she's super special because she has what I want. And we both know that isn't true. I tell myself the only thing that separates me from a published author is ONE PHONE CALL or ONE EMAIL. That's it. I put in the time and the energy (except for this week because I am rebelling against the writing--I'm a capricorn so it figures). I do the work. And I deserve it, too. And when I DO GET PUBLISHED I will be one of the nice girls and not think I am special or demean/condescend to other writers because they aren't there yet.

You never know when you will get there. The editors and agents don't care about how old we are. They only care about the stories and if they are marketable.

Write a great story, believe in yourself, and persist. You will get there!!

And now back to my regularly scheduled rebellion which has included mindless shopping, clearing out closets, and decorating a room.


{ We Heart YA } at: January 13, 2012 at 6:48 AM said...

This post. Forever and ever.


{ Steph Sinkhorn } at: January 13, 2012 at 7:36 AM said...

Definitely keep pushing, Christine :) Determination is a big part of publishing. No jokes about that. Good luck!


{ Sarah Wedgbrow } at: January 13, 2012 at 7:56 AM said...

I like the cheesy quote. :) And, yep, you said it! I've heard others refer to those feelings as jealousy, but when you're happy for someone it's not quite a jealousy, right? I certainly feel anxiety and the need to hurry up already. When someone I "know" online gets an agent or a deal, I certainly feel whiplash envy.
But I've had great feedback from agents and I'm just not there yet. I will get there, and try to be patient.

{ Old Kitty } at: January 13, 2012 at 9:04 AM said...

I go to bed with my winter goblins but demand they make me breakfast the next day!

But seriously!! Long may you keep pushing past your doubts and have many many many happy places to snuggle into! Think L'Oreal. Cos you're worth it! :-)

Now am totally going off topic here but I've just finished Terry Pratchett's Snuff and the good guys and gals are goblins! :-)

Take care

{ K.T. Hanna } at: January 13, 2012 at 9:43 AM said...

I call mine the evil writer's conscience, but I like goblins so much better.

Love this post.

I deal with mine by telling them I don't care, I'm going to work my ass off anyway. At least that's what I started last year. Almost Eight months later and it's still working. Here's hoping it lasts hehe.

{ Magan } at: January 13, 2012 at 12:55 PM said...

You have nothing to worry about. Look you DO have an agent and you had offers from four amazing agents, so obviously you are doing something write :)

We all have the goblins, I had them for years, heck I'm published and still have them.

Sometimes you just have to suck it up. When life hands you lemons you just have to say screw the lemons and bail!

{ Tara } at: January 13, 2012 at 1:05 PM said...

"I'm not the only person with a talking goblin living in their brain, right? ... right?"

Oh gosh, no.

Terrific post, Steph.

(And your fiance sounds a bit like my husband. I'm also always annoyed in the moment with his "Get back to writing and make it happen for yourself!" comments, but he's always right, and pushes me because he believes in me.)

{ prerna pickett } at: January 13, 2012 at 1:43 PM said...

I loved reading this, and can totally relate. Very honest, and I respect that you were to able to post it. BTW, my husband is also a virgo.

{ Jen } at: January 14, 2012 at 3:02 AM said...

Steph, have you been in my head again?

So, so true. I can especially relate to the part about feeling panicked. And that's when I have to muzzle the little goblins, and remind them that we can get there too, if we just keep working, and don't judge our progress by someone else's. It's not a race!

Sadly, the goblins are not logical and sometimes they want to scream rude words on public transport. But I'm slowly winning them over,

{ Whirlochre } at: January 15, 2012 at 9:58 PM said...

The best thing to do with writer goblins is let them run around for a while and have their shouty hissy bawly gripy say, then dress them up in outfit after outfit to see which suits best — and drop them into the next book without parachutes.

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