Saturday, November 06, 2010

Self Worth

Our self worth is tied to our successes. We don't even recognize it until we flunk a class or burn a meal. It is then that we face that wall of failure. How do we react? Anger? Depression? Sadness? Sometimes it's a combination of all. It may not even last long, just a glimmer of it sliding across our consciousness before we move on.

Think about it, every day we succeed at something. Even if it means that success is measured in getting to work on time or the socks are picked up. That is a triumph. As writers it is finishing the story, writing your pages, editing something that measures our success. Interestingly, we tend to focus on those successes in a fleeting way.

What we like to do is zero in our failures. We pick up the phone to call our friends or family to complain about what we did wrong; forgetting to call a client, losing your temper at work, or leaving your freshly made coffee in that special travel mug at home (sacrilege!). We even gather together over coffee to dwell on the rejections that arrived today or the judge in a contest that ripped the story apart.

With each negative thing our self worth, even our creativity takes a hit. Staggering we get back up, but the damage is done. The scar is there. As writers, the wounds are deep and we nurse them, even as we attack our stories to fix them and make them better, stronger. Just like that burned meal, when you remake it you remember what did not work. The next time it comes out perfectly.

The point? Keep writing.

In order to strengthen our failing self worth, we need to fortify our writing. The scars are still there, but if we allow the blows of negativity to bring us to our knees and we stop writing -- what was the point of starting in the first place?

Do you think someone like Julia Child could make the perfect French meal the first time she tried or the second, or third?

Every success comes from numerous hits to your self worth. You have to hit the bottom to appreciate what it looks like on top. It takes hard work and tenacity to get where you want to go.

Look at what you have accomplished: Have you finished a book or more? Have you plotted the next story? Determined characters? Reworked the scene? Sent out a partial? Have you taken a class to work on what you struggle with?

If you don't strive, you don't move. I'm going to move and drag my self worth along with me.

What kind of blows to your self worth have you taken recently? What are you doing to counter them?


Christine said...

Excellent post! And so relevant to this week's spate of weird contest results for so many of us LOL. You know I just get miffed. Then I get moving and move on. I can't get bogged down in negativity. I don't have time to regroup, but I must confess the best way to overcome a negative is for something positive to happen the same day. Like I got cr*& contest results -- seriously questioned my writing ability despite the "wins"--and the same day I got a request for a full from an agent for the same MSS. I follow my friend/CP's advice: have a lot of arrows in the air. When one doesn't hit the mark, inevitably another will land on the target.

Persistence, patience and putting as much out there as possible are the keys. Sometimes it is more than hard work, it is volume of output that leads to the "lucky" strike.

And now? Back to writing.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, Em. Best to just roll along and be happy with what is, with no mind to worry about what ain't, I think.

Debra Ann Elliott said...

Thank you for your reassuring words. That is exactly how I have felt this week. But because of Harlequin's SYTYCW I have been able to forge on with my writing regardless of not making certain word goals.

Lisa D. said...

Such a perfect post for the mood I've been in. I've had so many blows to the professional ego lately that I've been too unfocused and mopey to even think. Good to read.

Carla Swafford said...

It's so easy to dwell on the blows we take...and that's a lot. I take each blow as an opportunity to show them they're wrong. In my writing, that's when I send out another query, enter another contest or write another book. Just keep working and forge ahead.

M.V.Freeman said...

I totally agree with you. I've was given good and bad scores...and for once it made me smile! I even was sent a very nice rejection note.

But you know, persistence is the most important thing. And being able to step back and let it destroy you.

Now as for volume of these days..:-)

M.V.Freeman said...

Mr. Valance,
I love your succinct but sage comments. So true..roll with the punches and keep on going!

Hope all is well with you!

M.V.Freeman said...

Keep on forging ahead! Every little bit is one step in the right direction.

Glad I was able to give you a positive note! :)

M.V.Freeman said...

I so understand that. Sometimes you reel from the hits. I hope you find some time to regroup and come out swinging! :-)

May the words flow for you!

M.V.Freeman said...

I agree with you! When I get a "hit" I get mad...I'm not going to let them be the one that makes me stop writing!

Like you said..keep moving forward. :-)

Jeanie said...

Last year, I was one of three finalists in the Golden Pen contest. Since the Golden Pen contest is a funnel contest for the Golden Heart, I had high hopes to do well in the GH.

Uh uh. I did NOT final. One judge loved it and the other three hated it. My scores were abysmal.

This is the SAME book that sold, mind you. Contests can be a good source of feedback, but they are also a crap shoot. You have to remember it's all subjective.

We all tend to dwell on our mistakes and forget to accentuate the positive. Great post!

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Kat Jones said...

Great post!! I completely agree! I keep a quote by Calvin Coolidge at my desk as a reminder: "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

I look at it whenever my confidence slumps & I don't feel like I have what it takes (which, admittedly, is too often). It reminds me, that though I might not be the best or smartest, I still can accomplish anything I set my mind to. :)

M.V.Freeman said...

I am always so pumped up to hear your story! I totally agree.

I did get some contest results back this last week. Like you- one loved it, one sort of liked it the other one said I didn't have "sparkle in my voice". Surprisingly, I was fine with it.

I am focusing on what is good, recognizing the bad and moving on. I am not going to let this affect my creativity at all.

You are always so encouraging! :-)

M.V.Freeman said...

I love that quote and it is one I have to keep in mind too. The easy way is to give up, give in, and not write.

Glad you are not giving up the fight! I am not either..I am going to keep moving forward. :)

Stern Rake Studio said...

Thank you for writing such an uplifting post. I also love Calvin Coolidge's quote, posted by Kat.