A hero of mine, Nancy Pickard, co-authored a book called Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path. I’m reading it for the second time because like most writers I’ve hit a rock in the path, and I need guidance. According to the book, I’m at the unhappiness stage. Little overachiever that I am, I’m taking this one over the top.
I’m not unhappy; I’m flat-out miserable. No good reasons. Unless you count, multiple rejections balanced against only a second place win in a query contest, or my inability in the face of teaching six days a week to produce even the most mundane of drivel. Be thankful, I tell myself that you’re producing anything at all. At least you’re not blocked. Really? The only difference between a blocked writer and me is that they’ve acknowledged it. I’m in full denial and thus, keep plugging away at my drivel.
It’s been several years since I read it so it’s like reading it for the first time. The chapter threw me an epiphany with one line: “Unhappiness, to one degree or another, is where all creativity begins.” My YA novel is in revisions and by that I mean constant revisions, and I’m sick and tired of it. So, I’m taking a break while it is making the rounds and decided to start another one.
Unhappiness and creativity. I’m not quite to the newlywed phase of a work. Currently, it’s just scattered scenes with the characters as I get to know them. Which is why I’m still unhappy. I could stop. Quit. I tell myself that every day. Yet, I don’t. And I don’t perceive a time when I will. Because writing and the misery that accompanies it are as essential to me as eating right and exercising. Of course, when I’m in the zone, I don’t eat right or eat period sometimes. And my exercising becomes manic. I pound the treadmill because it opens up the doors of my creativity.
I highly recommend this book to every writer. Not only because it will validate every stage of the creative process but because it will remind you that for the pain and agony of the hard times, there is a wonderful place you will eventually arrive at. In that place, rejections are just slips of paper, and every word you write is a win.
Are you “unhappy” in your writing?