Saturday, June 18, 2011

May I Have This Dance?

If you're a writer, like me, you've undoubtedly been on the ups and downs of the roller coaster. We get so much fulfillment from creating stories, and most of us want to share that creativity with the world. A few lucky ones actually get to. The rest of us struggle and work and struggle and work ... always hoping that one day we'll really make it where we want to be.

I think it's important to remember we're all on different paths. Sometimes it's hard to see others around you succeeding--even though you may be truly happy for them--when you still have nothing to show for your hard work but a pile of rejected manuscripts. But then you have to ask, "How many rejections did that successful writer have to go through to get to where they are? How much work?"

It's different for everyone, of course. And it's not a race, or a game. It's our art. And it always needs polishing and honing, just as any craft or art does. Some will get there faster than others, but the important thing is that we focus on what we love about what we do.

Take ballet, for instance. Some ballet dancers start at the age of three. A few will love it so much, they'll stay with it well into their teen and young adult years. Will all of them make the New York Ballet Company in their prime? Uh, probably not. But does that mean they give up halfway through because the odds are against them? No way! Why? Because they are undeniably infatuated with the dance.

Does a ballerina set her sights on the New York Ballet Company, but never practice ballet? Maybe, but she ain't too smart if she does. Most likely, the aspiring ballerina dances every day, for hours at a time, always trying to perfect her pirouettes and pliets and piques.  She never assumes she can just audition for Swan Lake based on the fact she loves to dance and can see herself as a ballerina. She would be a fool.

No, the aspiring ballerina works diligently to become the best dancer she can. And she would NEVER dream of auditioning for the NY Ballet Company unless she'd spent years of perfecting her technique. Are their a few lucky ones who make it through, even though their ballet is not in tip top form? Maybe. But it shows. And will they be the ones who make the starring role? Never.

Does the aspiring ballerina stop dancing because she doesn't make the cut? Possibly. But not if she ever DOES want to make it. She knows she must keep working and dancing and hoping and dreaming that one day she will be good enough.

Just like writing.

Sure, it may be hard getting there, but if we keep working at it, we'll feel much more confident in our abilities, and when we do make it, we'll have EARNED it.

* A ballerina keeps practicing, keeps learning, in order to be her best.
* A pianist practices day and night to become better, more skillful.
* A painter is always open to learning new brush strokes or techniques for the best artwork.
* A writer writes every day, reads everything they can, and keeps honing their craft for the best, most seamless, story they can create.

I've written six novel-length stories so far and have nothing to show for it, other than a lengthy finished projects list. But does that mean I'm not cut out to be a writer? I say no. It just means I have more work to do. And just like ballerinas love to dance, I love to write. I love to dance too, but definitely not cut out as ballerina material. lol

Are you there yet? If so, how long did it take? If not, are you ready to commit to and work for your dream, your passion? I know, I am. Care to join me? May I have this dance?


Sarah said...

What an awesome post! It's so important to define success for yourself and to be real about the different levels of achievement you might reach--and the work it takes to get there. This post came at a moment when I really need it, so thanks!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

An excellent post and most enjoyable to read.It's good to see the post coming through as last evening I did a new post clicked on publish and it didn't and still won't go hope it's not blogger again.
Have a good week-end.

Jennifer Hoffine said...

Great post! I have my ups and downs also, between being caught up in the dying-to-get-published end of things and getting caught up in the writing itself. They often turn out to be two different worlds for me...I wish I could keep them both going at the same time.

Richard said...

As the saying goes: patience is a virtue.

You've got to keep going and never give up. That's what I do.

Anonymous said...

Great analogy! You have to break through all the writers cramp, sore butts from sitting so long, aching neck, stiff back, eyes sore from staring at the screen, lack of sleep, carpul tunnel syndrome. Hey, being a writer can be painful.

Old Kitty said...

I've got two left feet but that ain;t gonna stop me boogey-ing down and embarassing everyone with me! Yay!!!! Bring on the karaoke machine and disco balls!

Lovely post, thank you! Take care

Anonymous said...

There is an incredible of inner drive and faith that keeps me going. There are times when I feel my need to stretch further and doubt creeps in. But to keep going with absolutely no guarantees is a true trust in oneself!

Alison Miller said...

Truly inspiring post. There are so many days that I wonder if I should just throw in the pen, but the art keeps me going. I love to write too much. And I really do want to share my stories with the world. Good luck and hang in there! Thank you for posting this!

Mary said...

Great post! What a wonderful comparison, PK.

I've been thinking about this very same thing this week-- I can't compare my journey to anyone else, as no one else has gone through exactly the same journey as me. I can only compare me to me. And where I am today is a great improvement from where I was last year.

Keep writing and I know you will find your dream!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's not a race or a competition. And success comes on so many different levels. We should all be proud of what we've achieved so far and not worry about where we're not. Don't give up Pk!!

Monica B.W. said...

Lovely comparison. Really inspiring.
And are you sure you want to see me dancing? I'm a klutz. LOL

Carla White said...

I like the comparison you make, and of course it's easier said than done sometimes. We are our worst critics for sure. Sometimes I forget that I'm on my own path (not just with writing, but with everything) and get down when I see others in the place I want to be at. But then I snap out of it and it just reminds me, like you say, that if I keep working hard I'll get there one day too.

I wouldn't say you have nothing to show for it with your 6 stories. I bet with each one you can tell that you're becoming a better writer. So though they may not be published, you've still taken time and determination to write 6 stories and that's 6 more than some people have. What you have to show is patience and a more seasoned writing style, which will some day pay off.

erica and christy said...

I wrote about the fear of failure today and how it stops me from writing sometimes (like recently). I don't begrudge anyone else their successes, though - in fact, I usually find them inspiring.

Maybe if I start thinking of my WIP as practice instead of a book I feel the need to sell, I'll be able to finish the darn thing. :)

William Kendall said...

Terrific post, PK! Well said.

Rogue Mutt said...

And some girls are f-ing crazy like that girl in "Black Swan."

Barbara Kloss said...

Pk...I love how encouraging you always are. Plus, you've got such a great perspective! Thank you!

I'm right there with ya. I do this because I love it - I get the greatest joy and fulfillment out of creating. While I may not have the "letters" after my name, or the credentials "on paper" (no pun intended), that doesn't mean I'm not a writer. It doesn't mean I can't do the very thing that brings that sense of fulfillment.

Though it may be hard to swallow sometimes, if we don't focus on the reasons why we're writing, we'll be miserable. It's all about perspective and as I mentioned above, you've got an awesome one!

Catherine Stine said...

PK, one of your novels is bound to hit, especially if you keep writing. I have more than a few mss tucked away in files, but every so often I got lucky. I wish you mad skills and lots of ideas!!!

McKenzie McCann said...

I think making it as an author is a combination of luck, skill, and dedication. There are tons of good writers in the world, therefore sometimes being the best isn't enough. That's the sad reality.

Pk Hrezo said...

You are all so wonderfully supportive. I did not write this out of frustration, but as moral support to anyone struggling to achieve their goals. But you're all so encouraging anyway. Thank you!! :)

Jessica Bell said...

This is such a supportive post for those struggling to get published. I think you've really put the whole 'journey' (I hate to use that word but I can't find a better one) in perspective. Very smart!

If you've managed to complete six novels, you'll make it. You've obviously got a love for it. Someone will pick you up one day!

Tanya Reimer said...

Oh, so I should look at it as furthering my ability, and not as an addiction, eh? hehe

Great post, and it's so true. You can't play hockey without practicing and learning the rules first.

I asked a good friend this week, "Why do we do this? I mean really, wouldn't skinny dipping be a better use of our time and just as stupid?" She told me firmly, "We do this because we're good at it. End of story."

Lisa Gail Green said...

Beautiful analogy! It's so true. I have probably 7 full length manuscripts, and though I've gotten closer, I'm still not there. I'm not sure published authors would say they are there either though! :D It's all relative, so enjoy the ride!

Jennifer Jackson said...

I loved this post. Rejection is still a difficult mistress but she doesn't keep me down for more than two days at a time.

Even when I feel like I won't write another word, something draws me back.

Norma Beishir said...

I worked on my first novel for 4 1/2 years. My agent and I spent 6 months revising it, and it sold in 30 days. That was 23 years and 16 books ago.

fOIS In The City said...

I love to dance ... to sing out loud and to tell stories. I tell them in my head on the blog ... in novels, short stories and all over the place.

The more you work at your craft, the better you get. The better you get the more you work and the more you will love what you do. Never give up ... how could you possibly know that its the next story that will get you "there." And wherever "there" is for you ... you can't get to it unless you put one foot ... or with us ... one word ... infront of the other.

Love this post. PK, you're an experiences traveler and I am sure you are going to get exactly where you want to go :)

Jennifer Hillier said...

I think it's the downs that make the ups that much more amazing.

And yes, I'll dance with you! Let's boogie!