Wow. The absence of words and ideas is torture. To sit on the couch and try to think of something to write over and over again and nothing comes to mind, it’s more than writer’s block. It’s a complete mental situation. The list of things I should be working on is long and more complicated than I would like, and the same question I say to myself all the time is: what is the reward?
A writer is supposed to write, the experts say. But it’s just not that easy. Nagging self-doubt—no one is really going to care about what I’m saying—feeds the drowning low self-esteem. Depression feeds off of this and it’s a vicious cycle of zero productive activity. I can query agents all day long, waiting for the next rejection letter. I can re-work over and over again my manuscript. I have short stories that need to be cleaned up and submitted to magazines. I have a blog that is—in my opinion—pretty great with some great anecdotes, but keeping up with that is another chore.
With all this in mind, what is the actual reward? What it is is a feeling. A sense of accomplishment, euphoria of being the most creative person in the house, and it’s a physical endorphin release that improves my overall mood. I love when it happens, I really do.
Recently, when an agent asked me for additional pages to read, I was elated. I kept telling myself, it’s okay if she says no. it’s amazing she responded to you the day after you queried her. I was in denial, knowing full well that another rejection was going to knock the wind out of me.
And it did. The agent said the writing was solid, but when choosing a new author, it’s always between liking and loving the project, and she just didn’t love it. You’re not supposed to take that personally, but how is that possible? It’s your work, something you’ve worked on for years, over a decade in my case. It’s disheartening and encourages the self-doubt I carry with me.
So, is the reward worth it? Is all this worth it? I’m not getting paid to write. If anything, I have paid loads of money over the years to support my writing. Classes, conferences, a writing coach, a life coach, books, you name it, I’ve spent money on it. How long do I keep this going? It’s like having a constant To Do list that you never seem to be able to cross anything off of. I feel like I’m under a cloud hanging out in despair with Charlie Brown.
The reward is the love of being creative. But after so, so many years of being creative, you would like some recognition, a contract, an award, just something. I’m over here just working for free. I’m waiting for that feeling to come back. I want to feel it again. I believe—no, I know—it’s still there. It’s dormant and hiding and waiting for me to do the work again.
What are you doing in your life that feels unrewarded, but you love it?