Mental Health and Motivation
Living with depression is hard, but over time you learn to recognize the patterns of it. For example. I struggle with endings. The end of the school year, the days leading up to my birthday, whenever I complete a writing project, and the end of the calendar year--all very hard for me.
December rolls around, and I struggle.
Because with every ending comes the need to look back over the past and to wonder whether it was worth it. Whether I accomplished anything. And as my mother likes to remind me, I can be a perfectionist, I have a tendency to focus on the negative, I sometimes struggle to see my very real accomplishments. Often, I focus only on what else I want to have done, rather than what I did do.
This past week has been a little rough. There were some very hateful things said at my workplace recently, which put me in a funk. Then, with the end of NaNoWriMo, my sense of accomplishment started to fade, as I tried to figure out: What Next?
So, in an effort to thwart the depression cycle before it gets rolling too fast, I am going to focus on the positives. The things I did in 2018. Last January, my resolution was to get published, and I've been working all year to that end. Let's see how I did:
1) I joined the online writing community. Before I started this journey, I was a loner with a computer. I knew nothing about how to even attempt getting published. In February and March, I began reaching out to friends, joined Twitter and Scribophile, began talking to other writers. And I cannot stress this enough... WRITERS!!! If you are needing any support, reach out on Twitter. Because the writing community is amazing! And just when I'm feeling like I want to throw in the towel and give up, I get a message from another writer, and it turns me around. The Internet is full of very horrible things. But the Twitter writing community is the breath of fresh air I needed!
2) I edited The Life and Death of Cody Matthis, then I queried it. I queried and queried and queried... I put myself out there. Which is so hard for me! For a lot of writers, because we tend to be an introverted bunch. But I did it! And I got rejected. A lot. Until...
3) I went to the Chicago Writer's Conference, pitched Cody to Tina Schwartz of the Purcell Agency, and ultimately received an offer of representation. Meaning...
4) I found an agent! Note for the other writers... This happened way faster for me than I ever expected it to! Many writers I've spoken to pitch multiple manuscripts before signing with an agent. And it typically takes a long time. Signing with an agent is, I believe, a mixture of skill and luck, and mostly luck. It feels like the stars have to line up just right. You have to query the right person, with the right personality and tastes for your novel. You have to query them at the right time, when they are actively seeking new clients. You have to write your query letter just right to entice them to read your book. And you have to do this with a lot of different agents, before you find the one agent who just happens to fall for your manuscript like you need them to. I got lucky. I just happened to sit down at that table across from the right person, on the right day, with the right story in my pocket. Writers of the world. Don't give up! It will happen, but it takes time, and motivation, and grit!
5) Over the summer I completely rewrote and edited my Pride and Prejudice contemporary retelling with a rock'n'roll twist called Alyssa's Playlist, and oh my gosh, I love it so much! More than Cody. Which brings me to my next point...
6) I've become a better writer. A year ago, I liked to play around on my computer and write out the dialogue that was bouncing around in my head. Now, I think about plot structure, I think about pacing, I think about character motivation. And things click a lot better. My writing has improved so much!
7) I participated in and won my first ever NaNo!
8) Three of my short stories have been accepted to publications in the year 2018. I never thought I'd get one. I cannot wait until I get to hold something in my hand that has my name on it. I will probably cry.
When I list them all out like that, it seems huge. It feels like I've done a lot of really amazing things. When I list them all out like that, I don't feel like such a failure. I don't feel like giving up anymore. I don't feel like I should just quit, because why bother?
Yeah... let's see what 2019 has in store!