“I Suck!” and Other Naggy Negatives

Wow, what a busy last couple of weeks!

First a trip to Colorado for my brother-in-law’s memorial and interment at Ft. Logan National Cemetery in Denver. This might have been a quick trip back to see the old home town, except for one thing: a tornado hit Dallas last Tuesday which caused my plane to circle for what seemed like hours (turns out it had been) until we were forced to land in Austin, thankfully before we ran out jet fuel. There we parked on the tarmac for an hour – along with a dozen other diverted planes – before it was determined that we were going nowhere fast. After the deplaning of thousands of zombie travelers, the trip to a local Holiday Inn (loved that hour and a half of rest), and many phone calls to American Airlines, I surmised that I would not be flying out of Austin any time soon. In fact, not until SATURDAY of last week, meaning I would miss the services and get into Colorado Springs with just enough time to return to Detroit.

Thirteen hours and an immensely sore butt later, and after renting a car and driving through the panhandle of Texas (one big-ass state, to be sure), I arrived at my final destination only 24 hours late. Unfortunately, my bags were still in transit.

I have learned three things on this trip: 1. West Texas is beautiful – even with the preponderance of armadillo road kill, which is why I’m writing it into my next tome, 2. it’s good to be nice and keep your cool, and 3. I can finish reading a book and a half in six hours on a plane.

Usually, my trips out of town are a gold mine for writing, but this time, I could only jot down a few things in my trusty (manually operated) notebook. After the Trip from Hell, the final service at Ft. Logan (which I made by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin, and with my own clothes that arrived in CoS at 6 a.m.), and my sister’s sadness, I found I couldn’t write anything.

It’s not that I had a lack of information or inspiration. I was just plain B-E-A-T. I couldn’t even answer email. So I took a day to trim the bonsai tree located at my mother’s grave, which after 18 years of my neglect had morphed into the juniper who ate a headstone. It was relaxing to sit in the sun, listen to the traffic on I-25, to snip and trim, and now the Thing looks more like a bonsai.

But back to “I SUCK!” I found myself kicking and yelling (at myself) for my total lack of motivation. Yes, I have stories in my head yearning to be set free. Yes, I have something I’m shopping around and more than a few things I’m working on which languish in various states of disrepair. But to actually unpack my laptop and start moving in the right direction? I couldn’t. I was too exhausted/frustrated/sad.

But wait! There’s more! After the last email rejection letter (yesterday),


Although I thought your partial was well-written, it didn’t ring as perfectly right for our list as I’d hoped and for the moment we need fiction that sounds exactly right for us in order to be able to sell it as well as we all would like.

I was ready to throw in the the towel and hang out my “I SUCK” shingle. Life is hard enough without having rejection pummel your inbox every couple of weeks. I mean really…what am I doing? Wasting my time? Do you know how many talented writers there are out there? I am but a teeny-tiny wannabe with big honking flaws. I started late in life (for everything, job, marriage, kids, hobbies, you name it). When Real Writers talk about story arcs and character development, I rush to Barnes and Noble to find a reference book that can explain the concept, and even then I’m lost.

Well, after my pity party (yes, I know it was a pity party), I emailed (hurriedly) Mr. Ed for help. (He did. What a stellar guy!) This morning I read this, and began to feel better.

I even wrote over 500 words on my West Texas character.

I even finished this blog post!

The thing about “sucking” is that such a negative frame of mind lasts only a moment with most positive people, and I like to think of myself as being more positive than negative. This temporary self-doubt goes for people other than writers. I can remember my son thinking the same thing about himself, and he’s a very talented pianist. And while it would be ultra-fabuloso to be picked up by an agent, and maybe even have my work published (using the pulp material of your local forest), it’s more important to write because you have a passion to put your words together to make a story, and to make the story intriguing enough to read.

Perhaps I should seek to be read, not to be published.

At any case, I am back on the bus, and the wheels are going ’round and ’round.



2 Responses

  1. Joanne, I’ve read a number of your posts and I hear and like the voice that is coming through. I believe you have something to say, so don’t give up. I did major changes to my book based on my editor’s input, and I’m so glad I did…but it did take me a while to absorb that objective opinion. Good luck!

  2. Thanks for the words of encouragement, Cindy. Now I feel as though I minimally suck… j/k. 🙂 I’ll keep trying, for sure.

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