Thursday, September 04, 2008

Striking a Balance

The road to creative expression is a bumpy one, with plenty of healthy ups and downs and long flat spots in between. I believe the key is to navigate them the best way you can at the time, and if you make mistakes, pick up and keep moving forward. I've heard plenty of stories of discouragement and frustration from other writers, but the ones who made it to publication were always the ones who didn't give up, even when the going got rough. Recently, I was reading the blog of a writer who has been seriously ill. For a while, she wasn't even able to post. However, she's determined to get well. I wish her luck and I'm sure she'll succeed. In the meantime, her new book comes out this month.

I think sometimes people fall into the trap of treating a blog like a confessional. Sometimes no matter how hard you try to sound upbeat and optimistic, the slightest bit of discouragement can creep into the words and give people the wrong idea. Not all people interpret the same words in the same way, and that's an important thing to remember when blogging about your life. It's hard to strike exactly the right balance between communicating a small bit of frustration and giving people the wrong idea. Apparently, even though I thought I'd kept things upbeat, I somehow managed to give one person the idea that last year was not so great for me. Actually, it was fine. I've re-read the posts for that year, and the few negatives I did express included the interminable wait for publication, (that's nothing new), a few ongoing problems with the car, and a few frustrations with the homeschooling. Other than that, the posts were positive, and my year was positive. (After all, I did most of the revision on the first Brenna book last year, and that rocked!) Nevertheless, I must have somehow managed to convey a different impression, though try as I might, I can't see it. That's why I try not to go into deeply personal issues on the blog; even the lesser ones are too easy to misinterpret, as I've seen happen far too many times with a couple other writers' blogs. At a certain point, the only response is to shrug and move on. Everyone has a frustrating day sometimes, but there's always a tomorrow, and that might be great. It's all about balance.

Yesterday I had some bad luck with getting the kids to their piano class on time, and then I forgot my phone at home and had to go back for it, wasting gas. I had to go to the bank to stop payment on a check that I wrote to my credit card company and that the Post Office then lost in the mail. Not only did the credit card company charge me $39.00 for a late fee, but the bank charged me $10.00 to stop the payment. Now, if I only posted that much of what happened, anyone might think that I'd had a completely rotten and negative day. But there was more to the story.

The bank teller actually thanked me for the humorous way in which I complained about the fee; she said that she wished all her frustrated customers handled things the way I did. She said handling this problem with me made up for all the other frustrated customers who didn't put any kind of a positive spin on their bad experiences. The rest of the errands went smoothly. Then today I went to pick up a ring that I'd sent out for repair, and the store clerk told me that there was no charge on the bill for the repair. They gave me my ring good as new and sent me on my way. After that, I was able to stop off at the B&N with the laptop, and wrote 5 1/2 pages on the WIP. The important thing to remember about passing frustrations--whether you're a writer or a reader--is that they are usually just as temporary as everything else in life. If either you or your favorite writer seems to be in a slump, don't worry. Like the weather, it's bound to change. The universe has a way of balancing things out, given half a chance.


Willow Goldentree said...

:) Great blog post.

KHurley said...

Thanks so much!

Adrian Swift said...

Definitely an interesting and engaging post!

I never thought your posts or experiences tended to the negative. I agree with you that it's difficult to see how someone would draw that impression. Anyone deep into a sustained effort at becoming published will understand readily that there are ups and downs, and the key is to get through them: the majority of aspiring writers do not persevere and overcome the challenges. Anyone who does deserves accolades.

Also, a minor frustration does not mean a bad day, week, month or year. We just need to keep things in perspective, which you clearly do on a consistent basis. I'd shrug off the misinterpreter's comments.

Coincidentally, I just added a comment to my blog about the past month being one of ups and downs, before coming here to see your post!

C'est la vie....

Best wishes,


KHurley said...

Thanks, Adrian! All the best to you as well.