Like a festering, oozing case of poison ivy, change is uncomfortable. Usually because we didn’t want it in the first place or didn’t see it coming. If you’ve been following my blog you know that I’m about to begin a parole from my Day Job (aka, I got laid off).
And as fun and shiny as a lot of time off sounds it tastes bittersweet.
With any change there are three stages:
At first I thought I was still firmly entrenched in the disorientation phase. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bitter or disoriented. But I realized that I’ve actually been on a rollercoaster speeding through all three phases. It’s like a ride that has a busted lap bar and I’m stuck repeating it over, and over, and over again until maintenance can bust me out.
Luckily, I’m not too far gone to realize this life lesson has some real parallels to publishing.
Whether it’s a query letter that fails to find its audience or a published authors’ newest MS that fails to earn a book contract – writers get ‘fired’ a lot. I think it comes with the territory of playing in the subjective, entertainment space. Of course, it's not all bad, as Jess so eloquently states below:
Anyway: Let’s dissect my termination experience to see what gems we can take away.
Disorientation: Some things don’t work out the way we want them to. Or throw ‘want’ out the flipping window. Sometimes life surprises us and things don’t work out the way we ever imagined. It sucks but you wake up each day, get dressed, and keep breathing. At least I do.
Reorientation: This is flight or fight. I generally opt for fight but you may feel differently. I’m currently dipping my toe into these waters.
Maybe a small voice in your head is telling you to give up? Fight it. Don’t let the nay-sayers win. Lack of confidence is common in the artist community, see Natalie Whipple’s recent post on the subject here.
Reorientation is all about digging into your reservoir of amazeballs determination. It’s all about pulling yourself out of the vat of self-pity in which you’ve been wallowing. But that’s not to say I haven't had a good cry (or
Oh, I cry. A. LOT.
But I do it at home, where no one is watching.
I feel the feels and then I move on.
This, my friends, brings us to the final stage of coping with change: Commitment.
Through all of my days on the DJ and query trenches I’ve learned there is only one thing we can control, and I’ll give you a guess what it is (hint: It’s not the agent or editor reading your query – I’ve already tried my mind control techniques to no avail).
The only thing we can control is us. Our attitude. Our drive. Our will to never give up. That’s the one thing we can control and we must. It’s our true north. It’s our compass that will lead us out of disorientation and back into the world. We must be the masters of our spirit because if we let ‘them’ beat us down and push us around we wilt away to nothing. At least I do.
I can’t tolerate long in a place where my voice is not heard.
So the more I write about publishing and the more I throw myself into this field I see that this life, writing, is really self employment. And that’s true whether you go trad pub or indie pub. You control your fate, to a certain extent, because you control your attitude.
This situation is entirely within your control – because you are the situation. You decide how you’ll face today, and tomorrow, and the next day. You decide which fork to take in a yellow wood.
Commit to it. And yes change is hard, but it’s your move. What will it be?
Need more on how our Day Jobs can make us better writers?
Check out this post about taking criticism.
Or this post on Stability and Creativity.
Or this post on Discipline - you gotta have it.