A year and a half ago, I tripped over the edge of the sidewalk, sailed through the air, and crash landed on my head. No, I did not bleed all over; this is not that kind of post. However, my little experiment in aviation resulted in a concussion. So where does the bleeding come in?
Resilience, or Lack Thereof
Post-concussion recovery is a far more serious thing than I ever dream it would be, even right after the concussion. My doctor told me it would take at least a year to fully recover. I thought she was exaggerating, so I would not get impatient. She wasn’t. I have only begun to feel like myself this last month.
What does this have to do with opening a vein?
This weekend I attended a writing retreat.
When asked how it is possible to be a daily columnist, Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith is credited with saying, “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”
I need to bleed a little. This is the first writing conference since my fall where I have attended every session, even the evening ones. (See above–I thought I was back to my old self) However, by Saturday, after my one-on-one consultation, I felt weepy; after the Saturday night party, I felt achingly lonely; and by the end of the retreat I found myself wondering why I’ve even tried this ‘writing thing’ (for XX years, might I add, working mostly on novels the whole time). I cried all the home, most of the afternoon, and at church that night.
It is so heartbreaking to work so long toward a dream and not have it come true (“Yet”–thank you, Gretchen).
A good night’s sleep, some time with God, and a quiet house have helped restore some perspective.
Recovering from a concussion takes a long time. Just because I don’t have daily headaches doesn’t mean I am fully recovered. I think the dark stormy weather, sleeping in a strange bed, getting up too early, learning, and being around constant conversation and auditory stimuli was just too much for my post-concussion brain.
And the frustration with lack of publication? I just have to get real with myself.
Reality Number 1: Writing something new is so much more fun than trying to sell what you wrote. I don’t struggle with writer’s block; I struggle with submission block. It doesn’t matter that I have 8 full novels, not to mention at least 6 picture book manuscripts, and scads of poetry lolling around in my file drawers, if I don’t focus more attention on trying to find publishing homes for them, they will never find their way into readers’ hands.
Reality Number 2: I have not been stagnant as a writer. Through reading and professional events, I have never stopped learning and building my skills. That’s not something to be ashamed of.
Reality Number 3: I am a published author. So my novels aren’t there yet. I have had five folktale retellings published in Cricket Magazine, most of them serialized. This is a publication I have greatly respected and admired, long before my stories found a home there.
Reality Number 4: I know God has plans for my life, “plans to prosper” me “and not to harm” me, “plans to give” me “hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Should I give up on writing? It is a question I have asked myself, and God, many times over the years, and every time I do, I wake up with fresh, exciting story ideas, and seem to encounter more around every corner.
“Can I give up writing?” should be the real question. I don’t think I can. It is the way my brain processes life. Even as I teen, I recognized that my best thinking was done with pen and paper rather than just letting the thoughts and feelings trundle round and around in my own mind. It’s as true now as it was then–only I often use a keyboard instead.
I have tried not writing. (Actually I was driven to it by professional responsibilities when I was teaching Language Arts full-time.) I was one sad soul, and the ideas never stopped coming. Talk about frustration!
So, vein opened, commitment renewed, what will I do?
I will be more patient with my traumatized brain, I will write, and I will get more serious about submissions. A literate lifestyle is still the life for me.
How About You?
- Have you encountered roadblocks in building your literate lifestyle?
- Have you ever had to be more patient with yourself than you are inclined be?
- How do you pick yourself up and keep on going when life gets you down?
*art background: Depositphotos_13525625_original