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The Path of a Writer

I got a rejection this week, on a piece that I know is really good. Disappointed.

I’m really struggling to revise an essay based on some critical feedback from an editor.

Some days I have to wrestle my jealousy of other, more successful writers to the ground and stomp on it.

I haven’t worked on the book in two months.

* * *

Yet I’ve recently had two editors of online journals randomly email me and ask to re-publish blog posts of mine.

I submitted an essay to a publication I’d never submitted to before, and they published it. The editor even said, “I’m feeling an abiding compassion in your work that I really love.” They want another essay.

I’ve received a few long emails lately from random people who stumbled across my blog and wanted to talk with someone who maybe understands their situations.

* * *

My publications don’t make me a writer. My MFA degree doesn’t make me a writer.

This is what makes me a writer: I intimately know the struggle of writing. 

I know that I have to balance confidence and humility. There are times that I have to be confident in my work, believing in it even when someone else rejects it. There are other times that I have to be humble and admit my work is total crap and sit down to do it again.

I know that for every page of beautiful writing, there were 20 pages of terrible writing.

I know that for every hour of productive writing, there were 10 hours of staring at a blank screen.

I know that jealousy is a cold killer, and it will choke you if you let it.

I know that the joy of one sentence of praise for your work can carry you for weeks.

I know that writing is a way to interact with people, which can be good and also scary.

I know that I have to show up to my writing desk and my writing time every day, even if I only write one sentence. And I know how very hard that is to do.

So I walk this path, with all its weeds and brambles. My legs are nicked up and my feet are tired. I see mirages all the time, I dream of greatness. I push those dream-branches away from my face and press through them into my reality. The path ahead of me is long and I still can’t see the end. But it is crowded with life, if I will take the time to see it. I walk underneath the canopy, listening for the caws and buzzes, noticing prints in the dirt, looking for an opening in the leaves for the sun to break through.

 

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9 comments

  1. You really nailed it, Karissa! Writing is such a solitary effort and self doubt has a way of worming its way in. I am going to share this to encourage all my writer friends! Thanks for the perspective and the encouragement!

  2. Karissa, this is perfectly said. These words help me to trudge forward on my own journey, through my own forest. It’s a blessing to have read these words just now when I’m feeling beaten, drained, and low on life. Thank you for the renewing energy. I think I will write today. :)

  3. Karla Wardlow says:

    Exactly! I know I have complained to you lately about jealousy of other writers AND self doubt. In some ways it is the first I have ever felt like a writer, b/c I am experiencing those very things! Keep at it! You are an amazing writer and have an important voice to share with the world!

  4. Nicely written. Hard work doesn’t scare serious writers – it’s all they know. And interacting with people, whether on the page or in person, is part of the package. What writers struggle with most is to get their writing acknowledged, especially when it’s good writing that is not recognized because it is going up against fads. I agree that “the joy of one sentence of praise for your work can carry you for weeks.” I’m glad your essay got accepted by the publication, and they want more. It brings a sense of hope.

  5. Becky says:

    Yes, yes, yes. A thousand times, yes. You are a talented writer with an honest voice, but yes…I know the same fears all too well.

    Writing is struggle! But it’s a kind of wrestling we writers can’t live without!

    Keep at it! :)

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