Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Ups and Downs

January 3, 2008
I have yet to meet a writer who doesn't seem like he or she is a manic-depressive sans medication. We're elated about a contract, we're down about having to promote, we're up about how the work is going, we're down about how the work is going, we're excited about a positive review, we're down about...

You get the idea.

It's possible, of course, that all artists of one sort or another are like this. In fact, I suspect they are.

(Actually, once I became educated about depression, I realize just how many people out there are depressed and would benefit from some medication--have you ever worked with someone who's a REAL manic-depressive? I have and it ain't any fun. But that, as the saying goes, is a different story).

Part of the problem, I suspect (aside from the relative comforts of 21st century American life--I mean, if how well your novel is or is not being received is the worst of your problems, try living in Rwanda or Iraq or Darfur for a while and shut the hell up) is that any creative endeavor in the marketplace, anyway, has a lot of ups and downs.

I remind myself--daily it seems like--that very few careers in any field run in a straight line. There are a lot of zigs and a few zags and quite a number of setbacks. How we bounce back from the setbacks may be more important than anything else we do.

I had a big setback in December in one area of my creative life.

Then on the 2nd of January I got a call from a probable new big client and all I could think of was the cliche was true: when one door closes another one very often opens.

If you want to keep your sanity as a writer (or, for that matter, as a human being), it's best to get used to the capricious nature of the fates and try to enjoy the ride.

And no, I don't know how they got that 4-month-old to bounce like that on the trampoline. I'm not sure I want to know.

Mark Terry


Anonymous said...

My guess is that they got that baby to bounce on the trampoline with a lot of help from PhotoShop.

I know what you mean about the ups and downs of writing -- I got two rejections and two requests from agents within a week -- but I think a close examination would show that every person in every profession has some manner of these ups and downs.

I just keep writing.

Mark Combes said...

I think the kid on the trampoline just got a three book deal! But wait 'til his agent tells him the advance won't cover his diaper expenses....

As Mark Knopfler sings,
Sometimes you are the windshield, Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're going lose it all

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Oh, but what a ride!

Josephine Damian said...

I look at Jeff Lindsay's career - published as a mid-list mystery series writer, then dropped by his publisher - years later he re-invents himself and his writing with "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" - the rest is history.

Mark, did you see that Ken Bruen was fired by his agent on 12/31? The only certainty in this biz is uncertainty.

Yes, lots of mental illness in writers, and it's a subject I too will be blogging about in the future.

Candy Calvert said...

Great post, Mark--and, oh boy, can we relate. I can't tell you how many times I've had frenetic, levitating-above-the sheets insomnia from BOTH sheer exhiliration ("the call," first sighting of my novel on a bookshelf, first fan mail, a great review) and the ugly downside (rejections, a zinger last line in a review, seeing that first book go out of print . . .).

Frankly, this business is a LOT like my old day job as an ER nurse. Sometimes I'm dodging spit, blood, and curses; rueing the day I ever signed on-- and sometimes my efforts are rewarded by a staggering sense of rightness and connection. You never know which way it will go. Up, down--or fall off the trampoline completely! (I think I treated that kid).

But you're right, resilience is the key. And a sense of humor.
Bounce, fall, laugh like a lunatic. And get back on. :-)

Mark C.--I'm still laughing at the "diaper expenses." Dang, you nailed it there, for sure!

Keith Raffel said...

For me to write, I need to live in an alternate reality. Insanity is a requirement for success.

Mark Terry said...

Now there's a tag line:

Writing Is Just Like Nursing... except for the body fluids!

Candy Calvert said...

Heh, heh. Yes, even the mega coffee stains on my bathrobe seem a comparative blessing, for sure.

Refill--STAT! ;-)

Bill Cameron said...

In my own creative life, I've found a new appreciation for people who actually pay for my services. It's not writing, but it goes a lot further toward keeping a roof over my head.

Felicia Donovan said...

Mark, if you don't mind, I'll just freeze frame the image of that kiddo staying up.

You hit it when you said, "try living in Rwanda or Iraq..." When you think about it, we're all pretty damn lucky to be able to write what we want whether it gets published or not.

Candy, in my case that would be, "Chocolate - STAT!"