I'm going to put it all out there in a very evasive and somewhat whiny way. What I'm actually going to do is complain about writing.
The past few months I've started writing more frequently, which is great. As a writer, I should be writing all the time. I should have a daily schedule for writing. I should sit in front of my computer for hours on end, work on a poem, re-work a poem, revise said poem and continue the process until a manuscript is in my hands. None of this has happened. Part of the reason may be my natural ability to only do small tasks at a time. I've never been one to dive into a huge project and become totally immersed. I'm more of a "dip your toes in and see how it feels" kind of gal. But, to get back on track, I have been writing more yet I feel really crappy about my writing.
A few years ago I moved back to Pittsburgh and dealt with an emotional break-up. I had four jobs, worked an insane amount of hours, and still didn't have enough money to pay the bills let alone enough money to enter writing contests. All of this seems like wonderful material for a writer. I struggled to get through the day sometimes and looked for ways to heal. Writing has always been a way for me to heal but I couldn't write. I convinced myself that if I had time to write I should be working more. Completely untrue. I should have been writing more at this time to figure things out, to get my frustration, anger, sadness, worry and loneliness down on the page. Instead, I shut my creative self off and pushed forward. I regret doing this.
The past two years have been on an upswing for me and I am beginning to feel whole. I only have two jobs, instead of four, and I have my weekends to myself. So, once things calmed down and got sorted out, I thought I would jump right back into writing and feel confident. Not the case. I recently edited my resume and came to terms that it had indeed been 2 years since I published anything. I saw that as a challenge. I sent out submissions, looked for new places to send my work and, as of yesterday, none of my work has been accepted. I have a stack of rejection e-mails in my inbox. I see myself as a pretty resilient person. I tend to get back up after I've been knocked down. And, while I rationalize with myself that my work isn't at the point where it needs to be in order for it to be published, that the art of judging poetry is very subjective and emotional, that I need to focus on writing and not worry so much about publishing at the moment, it still hurts. I feel like I lost whatever "umph" I had when I was in grad school. I worry that my writing is too bland, not cool or funny enough. I read Anne Lamott's "Shitty First Drafts" over and over and it helps. But, then I put the book down, sign on to Facebook, and feel like everyone else is publishing and winning awards except for me. (Not an entirely true statement)
So, even though I am still in the messy head-space of low self-esteem, high self-doubt, self-criticism and freakish worry, I keep writing. I think that's what I have to do. And, while I will push myself to write more, everyday, I'm not sure there is much else to do. I will be seeing less of Facebook though, it's complicated.
If you have suggestions or go to remedies for when you feel this way, I'd love to hear it. Until then, I will be writing about cherries and beer. I hope you'll join me.