Where are my Bootstraps?


I try to stay pretty upbeat online, really, I do. I try not to give in to my dark thoughts, I mostly avoid passive aggressive status reports, and in general, I don’t want to be a complainer, or come off as negative. Which doesn’t mean I don’t state my opinion when I have one, it only means I try to be nice about it, or at least have a semi-well-informed argument.

The thing is, I am a complainer. I can be bitter and resentful and petty. In fact, bitter and resentful and petty might just be my default state. But I’m working on it, I swear I am.

The last few days have been a bit hard for me though. It all started with a rejection on Friday morning, the first email of the day. It wasn’t a particularly surprising one, nor was it from someone I’d placed a lot of hope on, but I hadn’t seen one for awhile and it shook me. I spent all of Friday in a terrible mood and after a weekend of pretending none of my WIPs existed, today I find myself feeling a little like giving up. You know, giving up this writing thing. I won’t do it of course but there’s just that urge to say fuck it and get a job at Starbucks, or, as I’m so fond of joking, be a greeter at Walmart.

I realize I’m just feeling sorry for myself (and really, for no good reason–nothing’s changed in my writing world, which admittedly might be part of the problem). This type of self pity is similar to work avoidance in that it feels a bit legitimate. I’ve been doing this for this many years and what have I accomplished? Of course I should quit! It’s kind of the same as saying I’ll get to work as soon as I sharpen all these pencils because otherwise, what will I write with?

There’s this thing that I know exists, but I don’t often hear it spoken of. It’s writer’s jealousy. If left unchecked, it can be a potent poison, and I think I’ve been letting it get to me. This is where I need to put on the blinders and say the good fortune that other writers have has nothing to do with me–and to call it good fortune is a bit disrespectful because it doesn’t take into account all of the hard work, the time spent, and the patience that other writers have put into their own craft. Regardless, I’m happy for all of their good fortune and writer’s jealousy isn’t based on resentment about what they’ve accomplished it’s about my own perceived failure.

This post isn’t a prelude to me giving up, not at all. It’s simply me putting it out there, I’m feeling bummed, impatient, bitter. It happens to us all, no matter what we do, no matter what our goals. The best way to combat it is to simply take the next step or another step in whatever it is that’s going to get you closer to where you want to be. In my case, it’s getting a few hundred words written. So I think I’ll end this here and get to work.

Holly West

2 Comments

  1. Harlan Coben talks about feeling like this, some mornings. Yeah.
    It’s something we’ll deal with for a long time.
    The jealousy can consume you. It exists at every level of the game. I don’t even slam 50 Shades of Grey… but I will say that Dan Brown writes just as bad. That’s as jealous as I’ll get.

    • I felt better as soon as I wrote this post. Sometimes it just helps to vent. And I’m in this for the long haul, no question about that. But the conclusion I’ve come to is that perhaps a couple of my goals for July weren’t what I really wanted to do so I’m dropping them to concentrate on my novel and projects I’m already committed to.

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