Friday, September 09, 2005

A Question of Sucking

I feel like whining. Oh I know, you say, what’s new Jordan? That’s what you do here at this blog. You whine, then you bitch a little, then you return to whining.

Fine. Well, at least we’re on the level here.

Today has been a strangely up and down day. On one hand, new and exciting writing assignments have come in, ones that make me happy and challenged and pay well too. On the other hand, I’ve just finished an article for a new market, one that doesn’t yet know my writing and pays quite a bit better than most, and I’m terrified to turn it in. The two words I really don’t want to hear anytime soon are: “Kill fee.” Now, of course to get a kill fee is better than not to get one, but still, it’s nervewracking. What if they hate me?

Then, an editor of a publication I write for on a semi-regular basis, with whom I have good rapport, and who has often said things to me like, “nice story,” or even, “good job,” sent me a sheet of “writer’s tips” they supposedly send to all freelancers. Now how should I interpret this seeing as I’ve written for them for nearly a year without said tips? She hasn’t taken a whole lot of my pitches of late, but the first time she does in ages she sends along this tip sheet. Okay, maybe it’s because I was pestering her and she was having a tough day, but she doesn’t strike me as the lashing out type. She strikes me as the fair and reasonable type. Pragmatic even. So, considering that she made a point to mention that opening paragraphs should not be a “flat recitation of facts,” well, you can imagine how my critical self went to work. I write terrible flat recitative opening paragraphs. I SUCK!! it cried.

I’m also still chewing on the wonderful feedback I got on my novel from a fellow writer. He had great points, good questions, useful directives. And of course what did I hear? I SUCK!! Or more realistically, oh god, the work I have ahead of me. What I want to do is pretend I never wrote that draft, forget about those characters who I love but who are deeply imperfect, their plot lines unsteady, and go on with this NEW novel I’m writing. Yeah…great plan, right? Novel-writing by denial. So in a way this post is kind of the apology for my last post. When I’m in editor mode, I’m serious and critical, uncompromising and even a bit sarcastic. When I’m in writer mode, I’m rolled over with my soft white belly showing to the world, begging for mercy.

As if that wasn’t enough, we read all the way up to the last chapter of Harry Potter last night (1 to go) and the events were so upsetting that E. and I, fairly well-adjusted adults that we are, both had bad dreams and feel deeply upset by what we read. As Napoleon Dynamite would say, “Gosh!”

What I keep coming back to in the midst of my up and downs though is from a book I first wrote off as being gobbledygook but which I have since come to realize is pure genius: “The Four Agreements.” Right now I need to remember 1. Not to take anything personally and 2. I’m doing my best.

A little sunlight wouldn’t hurt either.



At 1:09 PM, Blogger Patry Francis said...

So funny you should mention The Four Agreements. I reacted as you did initially, but now have the mantra "Take nothing personally" over my desk. I can't tell you how much--and how often--it has helped me.

At 7:40 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

You know the cult I worked for soooo abused The Four Agreements. Let me give you an example.

Boss says, "This is awful, you suck, why isn't this better? why did we hire you? we need someone qualified?"

I say, "Okay, I'll quit."

Boss says, "No, no, don't take this personally...."

At 1:38 PM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Yeah, well the key word there, Steph is 'cult.' They know how to ruin everything...



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