Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Five: battling the gloom

I have been wrangling with the opening of my new story. The first paragraph languishes at the top of my computer screen, summoning just enough energy to mock me but otherwise managing to be completely useless.

Is my writing fairy smirking, too?

So when I read these opening words of Jane Gardam's Long Way from Verona (recced by Michelle Cooper at her blog), I thought "Wow."

I ought to tell you at the beginning that I am not quite normal, having had a violent experience at the age of nine. I will make this clear at once because I have noticed that if things seep out slowly through a book the reader is apt to feel let down or tricked in some way when he eventually gets the point.

I am not, I am glad to say, mad, and there is so far as I know no hereditary madness in my family. The thing that sets me apart from other girls of my age -- which is to say thirteen -- is that when I was nine a man came to our school -- it was a private kindergarten sort of school where you could go from five upwards but most girls left when they were eleven unless they were really stupendously dumb -- to talk to us about becoming writers.

My second thought after "Wow" was . . . "Man, I suck."

And then all the writing/publishing/being-a-deeply-flawed-human ANGST washed over me, etc., etc.

Perhaps you know the drill.

In an effort to stop the flailing, I am going to make a list of inspiring/soothing blog pages.

1. This blog post from author Mette Harrison about "Failure."
"It’s really true that you can look at your life as a series of failures or a series of successes. The same life, the same facts, just turned different ways. I think that it’s also true that failing is just a way of giving yourself another chance for success."

2. "On a long run, on a long run," from Will Wheaton.
"I can stop being so hard on myself, and I can stop judging myself, and I can stop holding myself up to standards that are so high, even the people I’m comparing myself to every day would have a hard time reaching them."

3. "This is Not the End; It's the Middle," from dear friend Saundra Mitchell.
"I’m still working on a new book. I think it’s a worthy one. It won’t shut up and leave me alone. So can’t stop. I won’t stop. I’m not done."

4. And here's an old favorite: 12 Things Happy People Do Differently.

5. Also, baby animals!

So how about you? Any "go-to" websites/blogs/images/what-have-you to recommend for one who is feeling deflated and angsty? I'd love to see links in the comments! Perhaps I could make a "Masterlist of Anti-gloom."

In the meantime, don't be so hard on yourself, okay? And have a great weekend!

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]


  1. I love this Sonia. What works for me feels wrong, wrong, wrong, but here it is anyway: taking a break. It's uncomfortable not to be writing and trying to make things better when I feel frustrated, but forcing time away (as in several days, which shouldn't be a big deal, but is) makes a big difference.

    1. Oh gosh, I do take breaks quite often. That's why I'm so slooooow. But then I beat myself up for not writing steadily eight hours a day. I mean, WHO DOES THAT anyway? If someone actually writes eight hours a day, I hope they have the decency not to tell me about it.

      Anyhoo, I'm glad if this post was at all helpful to you!

  2. For me it's exercise. It's like pushing a reset button in my brain every time I work out or go running. Plus it gives me a sense of accomplishment, of starting and finishing an activity. Also, exercise enhances mood and improves health, which is important for an otherwise sedentary slug like me.

    1. A nice brisk walk helps clear the cobwebs, certainly. But a real workout makes me sleepy. I've been working out with a trainer for years now, and I'm still destroyed for the rest of the day after I leave the gym. Wah.

  3. I love this post. I've been enjoying Tiny Buddha lately. One I liked this week is "7 Things to Remember When You Think You’re Not Good Enough."

  4. The article cited in number 4 has a great list. Even more than the list, I loved the Dan Millman quote.

  5. What a coincidence that I read a post from, and then I read yours shortly after. I thought the post today was especially uplifting and one to remind us of all we have to be thankful for--even in the midst of our blahs.

    1. I will check that link at your blog -- thanks, Dee Dee!