Do you ever get the post-project blues? I’m only now starting to see the pattern. It begins with the euphoric rush of typing the words “The End.” I float for several days, elated by a sort of nostalgia born of what felt so right about the finished project. The high often opens the idea spigot, releasing the next project’s story flow.
Then the feedback starts to trickle in. With it comes the realization that there is more work to be done, and suddenly the flow feels tainted. Even though I know this will be the case beforehand, there’s nothing quite like hearing specifics from readers to cause the revision hammer and chisel to thump down on your desk, jarring the euphoria of skilled creation back to the cold reality of a still-misshapen chunk of granite. This is a time when I’m feeling caught between my excitement for book two in the series and the lure to begin fussing with book one again. I know I should wait until I’ve collected all of the feedback, then let it ferment and distill into a unified spirit before diving back in. The crossfire has left me feeling immobilized and melancholy.
Stasis Interruptus: As of the writing of this post, I am resolved. Today I’ve grown weary of the writerly haze in which I’ve allowed myself to wallow. I knew I needed a jolt, to get my mind off of critiques of my work—my own as well as those of others. I needed refocusing, a positive spin on my situation. I understand that I am lucky and blessed, but I wanted to make that understanding more tangible. So I decided to take a hard look at what seemed to be troublesome issues, then challenge myself to flip my perspective of them. In other words, turn my so-called troubles into blessings. I share them here in the hope that you might be inspired to challenge yourself, too.
Issue #1 – Finding the aforementioned manuscript still needs work. Quite a bit of it.
Flipside Blessing – I have a wonderful group of writers who are willing to read and critique my work. They are gracious enough to use their valuable time and experience to help me. Talk about a blessing! To top it off, several have already expressed their belief in the project’s potential. How could I ask for a better post-project circumstance?
Issue #2 – I feel like a slow writer, and each rewrite of a manuscript takes so long.
Flipside Blessing – I have it! The time, I mean. I worked hard to get here, but I’m at a point in my life where I can devote a great deal of my time to something I truly love to do—write! I am not under a deadline, and—knock on wood—I’m healthy. I am truly blessed to be able to devote myself to improving my manuscripts, to make them worthy of their potential without feeling rushed.
Issue #3 – I still have two more books to write to complete this story. And then I still have my original trilogy to rewrite. There’s so much to be done!
Flipside Blessing – There’s so much to be done! I am blessed to have a story I believe in already on the page. And I have a finished trilogy that I believe in, and I know there are others who believe in it, too. The two stories are closely interrelated, and my efforts on the current project will only make the originating story better. They simply need revision and proper format. Best case scenario: I’ll soon have six books ready for market. Worst case: I’ll have written and revised six books—that’s a ton of career experience, even if the stories are never widely read.
Issue #4 – I’m anxious to move on! About a year ago, I was kissed by the muse. I had an epiphany about the story that comes chronologically after my first trilogy. Will I never get to work on that?
Flipside Blessing – I can’t wait to tell the story of my characters’ children! And I already have about ten pages of handwritten notes, including sources of research. Unless I lose my marbles before I get to it (knocking on wood again), the ideas aren’t going anywhere. The story will be there when I’m ready to move on. Plus, I already know what I want to do next. And I’m pretty sure I’ll remain passionate about it. I’m looking to the future with optimism and excitement. That can only be a good thing.
Issue #5 – I’ve been at this so long, ten years and I’m still unpublished.
Flipside Blessing – I haven’t quit! I’ve persevered, and I can continue to do so. I’ve been at it so long, that I finally gained enough confidence to reach out in forums like WU, where I was once but a lowly lurker, too insecure to even publish a comment. And now here I am, writing an essay for you. I’ve been to conferences where I’ve shaken hands with wonderful writers and mentors, and been inspired by seeing them teach and share. I’ve come so far, learned so much. And I know there so much more to learn. Experience has demonstrated that I can apply new lessons. I’ve been at this long enough to see that there is no substitute for experience. I trust that I will continue to improve. Which sort of resembles having faith in myself, now that I think about it. Better still is having met so many wonderful people. People I am honored to call colleagues and mentors, people I am delighted to know as friends. And a few I can even consider “old friends.” There are few gifts in life that can compare to old friends.
Tangible Abundance/ Gratitude and Blessings:
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”~ William Arthur Ward
I paused during the writing of this post, just before this last segment, and went on a long walk on a nearby beach. Contemplating my situation in the brisk breeze, with columns of sunshine ethereally filtered through billowing clouds and reflecting off the sparkling blue Lake Michigan waves —my heart was filled to brimming. Even if it hadn’t started to become apparent yet (and it had), here was an abundance of tangible evidence of my great fortune. I feel as if I’m vibrating with the enthusiasm gained as I type this final section. I have characters and stories I believe are worthy of my efforts. I have a beautiful spot to write, set in an place that inspires me every day. I have friends who help and inspire and encourage me. I have a beautiful and supportive wife who believes in me. This otherwise ordinary day of writing has urgently reminded me how grateful I am. And that is a blessing, indeed.
Writing this post, and taking a good look at my list above has been just the jolt I needed. I can sincerely report a successful flip of my perspective, a turnaround of my mood and outlook. One truth I have found to be unfailing is that I am inspired and heartened by my fellow writers.
So I hereby challenge you. Regardless of whether you’re a moody curmudgeon like me, I’m willing to bet you have a troublesome writerly issue or two occasionally nagging at the back of your brain. Can you find their flipside blessings? Or perhaps a reason to be grateful? If so, please share in the comments. Thank you!