Sunday, September 18, 2011


Will I Ever Stop Avoiding My Reality?


The following items have caused me to write this blog entry:

A poem that a student brought to my attention  yesterday. It describes the human as a house where feelings are guests that come and go, but no matter good or bad, we must “welcome and entertain” them. In fact, Rumi suggests that we: 

“Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”

2. “The realistic odds are that you’ll earn more working a regular job in an office than you will trying to invent fictional worlds and then invent new ways of selling them. There’s only one good reason to do that kind of thing: because it makes you sane and whole and happy.” -Cory Doctorow

A small tidbit from an article that my friend/mentor Tanya Whiton  posted on Facebook. It discusses the author’s experiences with the harsh reality of  book promotion (both as a mainstream affair and DIY).

Part A
On why these items linger with me

I came across the link from Tanya this morning whiling working on  SUCKER (my indie lit mag I started in May) and my own work (a WIP that needs revision and is the 4th in my failed-to-be-launched-by the mainstream YA series).

I think you might know where I’m about to go with all this…

I’ll start with the article: First of all, I’ve read stuff like this before. Hell, I have lived (my Maddie books) and do live (SUCKER) this. And second–I try not to read these articles because they hurt my head. I mean I already know this. Why beat that dead horse again? After all, it won’t make it come alive.

Which actually leads to The Guest House: I avoid inviting and entertaining those feelings around my reality with my writing. Yeah, sure I’ve talked about it in my blog ad nauseam. I’ve advised other writers and clients about the reality of promoting their DIY books. But I never have allowed myself to bring this Truth into my heart, into my core.

Part B
On The Pain of Reality

To avoid inviting these feelings in, I create an imaginary world where all my efforts with my Maddie books and SUCKER pays off. An agent says "yes" to my work, we fall in writer-agent love, and she sweeps me off my feet to a lunch in NYC, where we sign my contract. Then six months later there’s an auction between two huge houses and voila! I have not just a book deal but a five book, book deal! (the four Maddies and my short story collection).  This imaginary world looms large in my head on long bike rides to Starbucks, or as I fall asleep at night and want to avoid the voices in my head obsessing about my work, my children, and my husband. These images of my agent and me at lunch in the city hovers over my shoulder when my inbox is filled with rejections or sort of rejections (you know, “I love your voice but it just doesn’t come together for me, blah,blahblah).

Pain of rejection, of no, no, no, of work-myself-so-hard-at-my-writing-that-my-elbows-develop tendonitis, do every thing you’re supposed to (see my list here)...Oh I feel it all right, but the minute depression, anxiety, fear, and disappointment walk in, the burning in my heart starts, so I try to shut the door–

Part C
On The Pain of Avoidance

But the feelings–man!–they put their fingers on the door jam. So when I slam it, it f-ing hurts–because I’m slamming the door on myself. This results in to-the-bone bruising that lingers for a long time. And since I continue to try to shut the door over and over, I rebruise and eventually break those fingers.

Part D
On Using My Imaginings Wisely

To face these feelings, I’ve created another fantasy:

I stand in a dark room, my hand wraps around a doorknob. When I turn it, the hinges creak, and I peer out into a hallway where I see Depression, Anxiety, and Fear. I step out and gesture with my hand, “Come in.”

 “There’s only one good reason to do that kind of thing: because it makes you sane and whole and happy.”- Cory Doctorow

Writing is my light. It makes me happy. My focus needs to shift to that, but all the while entertaining and offering a cup of tea to my feelings. Because “each has been sent/ as a guide from beyond”.  Depression, Anxiety, Disappointment might just have something to say to me, and the only way I’ll ever hear it, is if I sit down and share that cup of tea.  


Paul Heinz said...

Hannah, I recently wrote and recorded a song (to be available in a month or two) called "Falling by Degrees" about this very issue. I too am very well aware of the reality of writing, but I don't (usually) let that reality in. In my head I'm still a dreamer who thinks I'm going to achieve greatness. Not giving up yet.

Good entry.

Joanne Carnevale said...

Interesting analogy. . .
You, Hannah, and the previous commenter, are the people who make things happen. Hasn't nearly everything been produced by dreamers who didn't give up despite adversity? That previous statement might contain some hyperbole but not much.
Slamming the door on one's self can never be anything but counterproductive. I like that you now have a proactive strategy. Mazel tov!