I have a pain in the butt. Literally. I don't know what I've done, but in the last couple of months, I've had a lot of pain in my tail bone. Sitting for very long periods in the car or certain chairs results in intense pain when I stand.
Why am I telling you about my butt pain? Because yesterday my husband surprised me with a new bicycle. Since Grace learned to ride without training wheels, they've been riding while I walk along far behind them. So the hubs decided I needed a bike, too. I was shocked and really touched. He wanted us all to go as a family and knew I would enjoy the exercise.
I haven't ridden a bike since I was seventeen-exactly half a lifetime ago. So I was nervous and wobbly, terrified I was going to fall and make a fool out of myself. But guess what? The old saying is true - you don't forget. Within a few blocks, it all came back to me, and I was sailing along.
We rode again before supper. I relaxed and enjoyed the exercise (although my butt was killing me). And then it happened. I rounded the corner, the back wheel dropped into some kind of divot, and the impact went right to my aching tail bone. It hurt so badly I froze up, so when the bike got caught on the edge of the sidewalk, I couldn't react. Down I went, landing on my left side. Behind me, poor Grace fell off her bike from the shock. Hubby said it was like dominos (all while trying not to laugh, of course).
I felt like an idiot. We were about five houses down from our own, and I'm sure the neighbors saw. My pride forced me off the pavement and onto the bike, insisting that I was all right. And I was. A bit of road rash, but no bumps. Just lots of fodder for teasing.
My fall made me realize two things. First, I've got to get my butt looked at. It caused the problem. Second, I really am able to pick myself up and get going again. We've all had our bumps and bruises on our writing journeys: bad critiques, rejections, self-doubt, self-loathing, etc. Sometimes the depression and frustration those injuries cause can halt our writing for weeks, even months. Some may give up for good.
But we don't have to. We can pick ourselves up, dust off, and keep pressing forward. We have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. If a critique partner or editor gives you a lot of red marks, don't get angry and blast them or your ability. Take a deep breath and consider their concerns. They're only trying to help. The rejections will happen. Steel yourself and accept that, yet look for a pattern. Are agents and editors pointing out a specific issue every time? Take the 'no' as an opportunity to learn and make your work even better.
Don't let the self-doubt get you down. Fear of failure is one of the worst evils, and it will destroy you if you allow it. The next time that nasty voice creeps into your head, ask yourself this: if I stop writing, if I choose not to follow this dream, will I be happy? Or will I regret it for the rest of my life?
I think we all know the answer to that.
What about you? What do you do when you get down? Do you have any inspiration to add?