Beyond Discouragement

July 10, 2018

“In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.”

~ Vincent Van Gogh

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Yeah, that’s a pretty dramatic statement by Van Gogh. I don’t feel quite the same as he did when he said that, but I do want to follow up on last week’s discouragement post and where I am now.

To Wallow or Not to Wallow

I don’t know about you, but I can be a ruminator. I realize this is different from wallowing, but I liked that heading better than “To Ruminate or Not to Ruminate.” In spite of my meditation and yoga practice, my work on peace, love and chocolate, I still let things get to me. I replay what happened, write and rewrite my response and I do this over and over and over in an endless loop. This often results in little or no sleep.

This happened recently when my agent and I had different visions on one of my manuscripts. I thought it was brilliant and ready to submit to publishers. She thought it was—not. 🙂

I felt disappointed.

I felt—you guessed it—discouraged.

I ruminated on it. Tossed and turned. Felt frustrated, angry, and misunderstood by turns. The optimist had left the building.

And then I re-read the email. Funny, but my amygdala (that tiny part of the brain that handles survival with fight, flight, or freeze) had completely ignored the positive and encouraging parts. The parts that praised the writing, the character, the voice. The parts that told me where the story had veered off course, how another approach might work better.

Wow.

Beyond Discouragement

Staying in a feeling of discouragement is counter-productive for me. I needed to sit there, to feel it, but ultimately it doesn’t serve me or my goals. I’ve found that I can feel discouraged and still move forward, still evaluate and make decisions—unlike Van Gogh, I didn’t abandon my pencil.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m still feeling a bit of that discouragement, but I’ve sprinkled my agent’s encouragement and willingness to continue the discussion over the top of it. I’m getting out of my pity party to do the work that must be done.

I trust my agent. She’s brilliant and insightful and I’m frickin’ lucky to have her. But I also want to trust myself and my own instincts about my stories and I know she wants that too.

I have options. I always do. But I often don’t see them when I’m stuffed inside the dark box of something like discouragement.

So I cut a hole. I see some light. I widen the hole so I can crawl out and move toward a place where I can look more dispassionately at the feedback and ideas presented.

Where I can decide my next steps and eventually move far enough away from that the dark box that I don’t even notice when it collapses behind me.

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