A good friend just obliquely asked me (paraphrasing) how I maintain the motivation to write and submit. I think. I have been mulling that over and the key is resilience. Writing resilience. And I can see how I have managed to hold onto my writing resilience, because it contrasts very starkly with the lack of resilience I have in other facets of my life.
I’ve had postnatal depression for I’m not sure how long now. Next week is the Goo-boy’s second birthday, and most of that time has been pretty rough. Writing is often therapeutic. It’s something that has kept me going, even when the darkness threatened to overwhelm. I’ve held onto my writing resilience purely because writing helped me cope with all the other stuff. The hardest part of writing was that the lowest point in my mental state coincided with the middle of my acceptance drought. It’s difficult to continue submitting when no one seems to like your words. Why did I continue? Maybe I’m just a masochist, or maybe I needed one hopeful thing to hold onto. If I didn’t submit, I would never get an acceptance, and I would probably stop writing. I needed to keep writing. Self-reinforcing cycle is born.
I’m contemplating what forcing myself to write a novel is doing to my writing resilience. It seems when my head is in a good place a novel is a great idea. I have loads of discipline and sit down and write. But when life intrudes, when my lack of resilience *elsewhere* becomes apparent, my very restless mind see the novel as a bleak wasteland, trapping me into a single world that doesn’t necessarily meet my therapeutic needs. Shorts and poems allow me a brief interlude in a world that feels rich and alive. I can work through stuff and then remove myself from the pages. The novel doesn’t let me do that. And it’s becoming hard work. A chore. Some days I actually think I don’t want to write. But I need to write. If not every day, then as often as possible.
I’m not sure what the answer is. Limit myself to only working on novels when I am in a good headspace? Accept that some days I *need* to work on a short story? In the wise words of Trent Jamieson, “A novel’s not a race, it’s a negotiation with everything else in your life. No-one wins a novel, they build it, brick by brick.” And I’m seeing that he’s right.
I guess I’m still figuring this thing out.