pardon me

while I try to pick myself back up. It has been a long and difficult day. You know how sometimes everything seems to go wrong at once? That was today, for me. An ongoing professional struggle got worse, I spent hours chasing down long lists of authorization numbers as the first step in the last step of getting this weblog (and website) straightened out — and then got a cryptic email that makes me believe that many none of that painstaking work I did went through. A deer ate one of my favorite plants — despite the fact I had sprayed it with icky-deer-don’t-like-this stuff (which usually does work). And finally: I tripped in the garage and as i was falling in slow motion, a thought went through my head very clearly: this is going to hurt. this may well break a bone. Just before I hit the concrete with a splat. And lay there for a couple minutes, because the wind was knocked out of me.

I’m okay. I sprained a finger, and I have a knee that looks like it belongs on a really accident prone six year old, but I am okay. But you see what I mean about the kind of day it has been.

Now here’s a bit of wisdom from Harlan Ellison, which oddly enough has lifted my spirits:

Anyone can become a writer. The trick is staying a writer.

Persistence is a much undervalued quality. While I was in academics I saw many very smart people drop out of PhD programs while the really persistent ones — sometimes not very talented at all — dug in and got through. Those were the people who would retake exams multiple times and rewrite dissertation chapters again and again. They just would not take ‘fail’ for an answer. Sometimes they just wore the faculty down to surrender.

So it’s true about writing as well. You are a writer until you stop writing. Sometimes it’s really hard to carry on. People give up every day. One more rejection letter, one more midlist book that dies before it ever gets out of the starting gate, one more set of negotiations that leave you drained and demoralized. People put down the pen or close the word processor and go out to get a job selling cars or teaching composition or weeding gardens.

I am not about to do any of those things. The lows get very low sometimes, but I’m still here, putting words on the page.

8 Replies to “pardon me”

  1. To end the day, I suggest propping your legs up gingerly, and using the hand with unsprained finger, enjoying your beverage of choice. Might as well enjoy some of the day. Cheers to the end of a bad day.

  2. I’m glad you still want to put words on the page. I miss you when you’re not here. And I really enjoy your style of writing.
    In addition to Anne’s end of bad day therapy, I would suggest including chocolate somewhere.

    Don’t forget, any time you are having a low, you can tell yourself ‘I have buoyant and creative talents’ and believe it. It’s right there in black and white. Hey, you could even allow yourself to smugly think on that while you nurse your sprained finger back to health: Ha! Take that world and nasty forces conspiring against me. I have buoyant and creative talents. So there.
    It helps to be childish once in a while I find.

  3. I agree what’s been said, especially Alison’s comment.

    you can tell yourself, “I have buoyant and creative talents” and believe it. It’s right there in black and white.

    You are the most approachable author I have ever read, you make it all seem accessible, possible and my most favorite part about you is your authenticity.

    You make everything fun.

    So now you can say, some good things have come out of your day.

  4. Yes, I’d have to agree with Alison about the chocolate, lots of chocolate! Hope your feeling better.

  5. I love your candidness and how you have this knack of posting the most uncanny comments right when I need to hear them. I’ve learnt so much from being involved in the community you foster. When I am down and think ‘I’m such a failure’, ‘I’ll never make it’, you post something that I can latch onto, some useful bit of advice or encouragement and you don’t even know that – this is also your legacy, unseen though it may be. We will remember you not just for what you wrote, but for what you did.

    Have a great week-end.

  6. World rules do not apply when one is falling:
    1. The body falls FASTER than the speed of gravity.
    2. Time slows down so that we can meditate in detail on just how much it’s going to hurt when we HIT BOTTOM.

  7. Oh, I know what you mean about the slow motion fall. I blew my knee when I was at high school – stood on a soccer ball, hyper-extended, and dislocated my knee cap. But the odd thing was, I remember thinking quite clearly just before it happened that it was better to stand on the ball and get tripped by it, because we were playing in the asphalt and I was desperate to avoid a graze. Because, you know, that hurts. Five lots of very painful surgery later, I wish I’d taken the graze. asdfg described the mental process perfectly.

    Anyway. I digress. I hope you had a better weekend.

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