Feelin' that Writing Funk
I’m in a funk.
A big, fat, not-sure-how-to-get-out, writing funk.
In a nutshell, September kicked my ass. I wrote a piece I really liked. It wasn’t earth-shattering or life-changing, but I worked hard at it and was happy with the finished product. It was a personal essay revolving around the 50th anniversary of The Brady Bunch. I’d hoped I could sell it to a publication in time to be published on the show’s anniversary date of September 26th.
Over 4 weeks, I sent it to 20 outlets — of them, 8 sent polite rejections and 12 ignored my submission altogether. I finally, reluctantly, published it on Medium, just to give it a home.
Meanwhile, during this same time frame, 12 other pitches, essays, and fiction submissions were either ignored or flat-out rejected by 12 separate outlets.
And I get it — this is part of the gig. But when you work from home alone all day and every piece of work you send out into the world is turned down, it hurts.
Attempting to make a living through some form of artistic endeavor is such a masochistic pursuit. You pour your heart into your art, in whatever form it takes, and hope someone who has some pull likes it enough to pay you for it and share it with the masses. When your work is rejected (or worse, ignored), you can’t help but wonder if the problem isn’t them, but you.
I try to stay positive when this happens. I’ve even written before about just rolling with it:
A “no” doesn’t mean your pitch or essay or story isn’t right. It means it isn’t right for that publication. You might get a rejection because the outlet ran a similar story weeks ago or has one in the pipeline for next month. Or maybe your article’s tone isn’t quite what they’re going for — you’re too humorous, they want solemn. Or perhaps you have a character wearing a blue shirt and the editor just that morning broke up with her boyfriend who had blue eyes and she can’t fathom how anyone would like the color blue because he was a stupid jerk. See? Not about you.
That’s such a cute little pep talk, Me of the Past!
But here’s the thing: Right now, the reason behind the rejection doesn’t matter. Right now, what matters is that I’ve heard nothing but “no” over and over and over, for weeks on end. Right now, I don’t want to shrug it off and keep plugging away; I want to wallow in my funk while eating a giant tub of ice cream and binge-watching HGTV.
I know from experience that things will get better. Eventually, I will sell another essay or pitch, and the high from the sale will pull me out of despair and get me back into the swing of writing. But I have to admit that the ups and downs of this job are tough. There’s very little stability, very little pay, and a lot of unknowns. It’s scary at times.
This morning, while cleaning off my desk (because why would I write? no one wants my work anyway…sob story sob story), I looked at today’s page in my Writer’s Digest calendar. It’s a quote from author Kristin Hannah:
“You have to believe in this career, you have to believe in yourself, and you have to move with great determination forward.”
To quote the great Carrie Fisher in When Harry Met Sally…, “You’re right, you’re right. I know you’re right.”
I get it, Kristin. I need to keep at it. And I know, despite my mood today, that I will. I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep submitting. I’ll keep pitching.
But not today. Today is a funky, ice-cream-and-HGTV kind of day.