Friday, August 09, 2013

Mind the Gap

(Cross-posted from Mental Chaff)

We writers are people. We like to share our successes, we like to hide our failings, our faults, our less-than-perfect moments. Especially online, as we each work to build an audience and reach out to readers, it can be hard to talk about the difficulties and struggles. But there's another group of people who might read this, too: less experienced writers.  And they NEED to know how hard it can be.

Today I'm going to talk about the gap.  First, let me let Ira Glass, host of National Public Radio's "This American Life" and a fine storyteller, explain:

So, that's the gap. I'm in that gap. I have been for about two years. I am closer now than I have ever been to breaking in, and I know it. That's makes every setback harder to take, worse to struggle through, because my backbrain starts telling me I haven't made any progress, that I'm a hack, that I will *never* make the jump.

Now, my forebrain knows this is a heap of rubbish. But emotions, unfortunately, they bubble up out of that subsurface stew in the backbrain, and they get to simmering on that disappointment and despair, which kicks in the cycle of not working, not writing, depression, and it gets harder and harder to do the work to push forward. 

I need to say this, because it's happening to me right now. I need to say this, because it's happening to other writers, right now, too. And I need to say this because it *will happen* to countless others along the way, many of whom have no idea that this is part of the struggle to get where we're going. Campbell isn't as popular as he once was, but I have to see my self as the hero of my own journey, and this is the belly of the whale. It goes deep, and it goes down, and it is dark and foul-smelling. And I have to persist through it. So I will. That doesn't make it any easier, but it does mean it won't last forever.


Eleanor said...

I really respond to this. You will get through this gap and be published -- and then discover there are other problems that make writers crazy. But the period before getting published is the worst.

Eleanor said...

Or was for me. Every step I have taken has made me more confident -- though I sometimes didn't realize till later how much I gained and changed. If that makes sense.