I'm sitting at home (of course, we all are) in what I believe is week 5 of our self isolation and #stayathome trend to help flatten the COVID-19 curve. I find it so interesting that one day I'll re-read this post or someone will stumble upon my blog and this will be sitting here for posterity.
Like so many others, this entire process has been an ocean of change. Like the tides, we ebb and flow--- one day I feel invincible and strike everything off my to do list. From work admin and content creation to practicing my guitar and studying French on the Duolingo App. Others, I am in a fog. Bleary eyed, and hunched over, the weight of the entire world literally resting on my shoulders.
When the global shut downs started, more and more entrepreneurs and influencers were calling for us to "use this time to write that book!" "Make that art!" "Do the things you've always wanted to do but never had time for!"
To be honest, I was angry. Here I am usually managing through my days with an underlying anxiety that I am not allotting enough time to my own creative endeavours. I'm not writing enough of my second novel, or querying more agents for my first novel. Or researching how to self-publish. Or finishing up my assignments for my Editing Degree (because why not have 15 projects on the go?). This, on top of juggling clients and doing work that actually gets me paid.
Now here we are, trying to keep our heads above the water during a global pandemic---people are dying, healthcare workers are literally facing death on a daily basis, jobs are being lost, airlines are grounded, borders are closed and even attempting the grocery store to get the essentials is giving me palpitations. Then you expect me to sit down and tackle all of those creative projects that I've been mentally drained of doing in normal times, right now?
So no, I call bullshit and you should too. This is a time of survival and while it may not feel like we are at the front lines of a war and we are able to stay in the comfort of our homes (while not the case for many others), with food, booze, Netflix, Wi-Fi and time outside unlike other countries, we are still dealing with the onslaught of news and media updates. Our social channels we used to use an escape have become a constant reminder of this global crisis. If you don't want to "take advantage of this time" you don't have to. Maybe you have kids at home and you and your partner are trying to adjust to working from home, and now being the sole educators in your children's lives. Maybe you struggle with depression or anxiety. Maybe you draw a lot of your own mental health on being out in the world surrounded by people. Maybe you're single and live alone without the possibility to visit friends and family.
Maybe just waking up, showering and eating well is enough today. Maybe tomorrow you stay in yoga pants and drink wine at 1pm. Never has the expression, "you do you" resonated more with me right now. So while some days I tick some items off, and yes, even get some writing done, I'm over the rule or pressure that during this current climate of a global pandemic is somehow supposed to equate to MORE productivity and creativity.
I'm over the rule or pressure that during this current climate of a global pandemic is somehow supposed to equate to MORE productivity and creativity.
I'd like to leave you with one of my favourite quotes when dealing with highly emotional times: "Focus on the light" which is loosely taken from an Aristotle quote. And how about you, dear reader? How are you holding up throughout these days of social distancing and self-isolation?
I recently saw a Tweet that asked: "How long have you been querying for?" I wish I could remember where I saw it (damn you Twitter with your constant refreshing). But as a writer, it definitely triggered something for me.
I've had a few friends recently ask when my book was going to be published, or when they could get their hands on a copy. Thank you dear friends! That support means the world. But until I saw that Tweet, I was kind of blissfully ignorant to how many literary agents I had actually queried + how many had said yes. Spoiler alert: none of them have said yes.
So to answer this Tweet, dear anonymous Tweeter, I have queried 13 agents since September. That includes one blast end of September and another push at the beginning of 2020. I did get one positive response that they wanted to see more but due to their personal circumstances, were being very choosy on their new authors. Which is totally fair!
The funny thing is, when I actually checked my list and saw all the blank spaces of no responses (not every agent has the time to respond to the hundreds of submissions the get), or the few with firm No's beside them, it didn't totally rattle my core or shake all of my confidence. When I first started writing, I dreaded rejection. Like so many writers or mentors we've had, they all say the same thing: "everyone faces rejection at some point in their career." Hell, if JK Rowling can get turned down by that many publishers, and then be the goddess that created an entire world, then we've all got to do our time right?
In fact, when I first got my edited manuscript back from my Editor in the summer, I quickly scanned her notes and email and needed to put it away for a week or two as I just didn't feel strong enough to see all of the red lines or feedback on these characters I loved so much. But once I was ready, wow, did I respect this Editor! She had so many valid points and suggestions and I just knew that my novel was becoming so much stronger as a result.
So while I sit here playing the waiting game, I'm not that worried to be honest. The right agent needs to come along that believes in this world I've created just as much as I do. I wouldn't want someone to take it on just to get a book deal. I'm looking for that synchronicity between us that could lead to a very long and fruitful partnership for both of us. And in the mean time, I'm trying to get back into the world of novel writing as that is certainly one of the best ways to get stronger and stronger in one's craft.
Are you someone waiting on something too? A book deal? Maybe you're a musician shopping around an album or an artist trying to sell some of your paintings. If that's you, I am so here for you my friend. We can play the waiting game together - I have plenty of wine and puzzles to pass the time.