Anyone who has worked at something for a while and have it not work out, knows what I’m going through today. I have a few admissions to make, and truthfully I think we ALL tell or don’t tell about ourselves as we are so fearful of others judging us. I realized a while ago we all judge and are judged whether we want to or not. It’s hard to make good decisions though based upon fibs, and that’s what I’ve been doing mostly for a very long time.
I don’t lie about what I do or who I know, or what I’ve done. I lie about the circumstance I’m in while I do those things. I have been hoping for a very long time the logistics of my life would get better. I did it for a FEW reasons. I didn’t want people to think me in a loserly fashion, so yes, shame has been a part of it. But I also wanted “success”—hard to convince a company to risk majorous scads of cash on an unstable only somewhat successful person. It’s one of the reason you see so many well-heeled people succeed in my business. Those who aren’t were able to get a system in place so the risks weren’t aversive. I’ve never been successful at that, so failure number one.
Except I’ve met and talked with people because of who I am. I’ve had experiences, some good, bad, and hardly any of them indifferent, and just about all of them worth writing about, and they inform my point of view and work every day. So in that case, it’s not that much of a failure, because I have an intrinsic understanding of a great many things and people, because I’ve walked the walk. So that’s a wash.
I’d found some success, founded a very successful critique group and had been included in with some of the brightest talent out there. Ask ‘em. But was forever the bride’s maid. Part of it was the above. Hard to commit to deadlines and other things when you life falls a part on a regular basis, some of that was spent cold, and some of it hungry. I lived in neighborhoods with some serious issues and what others would call blight, I call it despondence. i had got to know intimately people, most other people have avoided their whole life. In many ways I come from those people.
And now I’m going to share something that will sound so arrogant, but it’s the truth, and it’s been my reality. I am exceptional as well. Have been most of my natural long life. Much of it is “good”, some of it “painful” but I’ve been outside of the norm even as a baby. There were times I really wanted to adhere to privilege, it’s the only way someone like me can survive sometimes. And there were times I had privilege. There were many I did not. There were even some where I was judged in a much different way (You have all these talents, why AREN’T you successful?). What it mostly has been has been painful. The easiest time has been when I started looking for the things I have in common with people, and redirect their attention, and my awareness in that direction.
The really funny thing, I really would love to be an effective and successful writer and illustrator, but there are two things necessary for that, I’ve been avoiding. You have to be as truthful as you can be (even if you’re lying and making up fiction. Bogus reeks and many people catch on quickly). And you have to be emotive. I really don’t like feeling too much.
So this was me this morning (not really, it’s a drawing for Yellapalooza.com the critique group I helped found— and that plays into this post as well):
I have been excited about the radioblogtalk show for weeks now. I enjoy doing it (Jd Holiday is a gracious and fun host, and I love that she volunteers her passion). It’s a great way to get more exposure, practice speaking without FEELING too public, and promotes books and literacy as well as myself. I love Halloween. It took a bit of machinating, and communications, miscommunications, recommunications, before the understanding of the schedule. I was excited because I was going to read a book on air (The Witches Hand by Peter Utton). Even better, Will Terry has been so gracious and I’ve learned so much from him, I was ecstatic to be reviewing the book Skeleton for Dinner written by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by the oh-so talented Mr. Terry. But the mung that has been amongst my lungs took over, and I missed the show (not even in its entirety.
The night before so happy and promising it just blew my socks off, because though it’s not a paid gig (would be nice), it was a credibility thing. And today: a disappointing thing. And felt very close to that failing thing.
On the walk to the library, my mind and heart still in a roil, all I could think on my life is so stupid. I don’t even own an alarm clock, let alone have a way to plug it in, though I don’t know if my Lauren Bacall voice was more of a croak than a come hither, this morning, and my spongy lungs were still beating me up. I had asked someone two weeks ago to make sure I got up, But I didn’t remind them, it became an oversight.
I really wanted to BLAME someone.
Once I moved past that, though I actually thought about this in light of a book I’m reading, Seth Godin’s Linchpin. I had been so upset some in my life didn’t see me or want to see me as a linchpin. I had always acknowledged the gifts and benefits that others had given me. I’m in a strange place right now. I’ve always thought what I had to say in my books were important, even though I often put those things aside because other things came before. I hadn’t thought about the events as linchpins in mine. Or even how such a small thing could totally derail me, and months of work. Though in the last few days, the Ursula K. LeGuin quote about your work only being important to you has also been smacking me upside my head. Until it all came tumbling today. On the way to the library, I refocused some of my work. I really do detest sitting in my own mess. So this is more of where I’m at now:
Putting how I was really feeling, brought the direction I need to go into more fully into view. With Annie the message is we become our possibilities. But thinking of how hard we, I try, and how often we FAIL, I don’t think we honor process enough in books, especially for kids. Brain-farted a couple of ideas for some quick stories, I may put together after Annie, I think would make decent e-books and addressing those thoughts. Thought how this event does and should and will impact my novel that I’ve decided to suck it up Buttercup and hit the old NaNoWriMo with it. Talked with one of the librarians about what her linchpin was (today, mine was an alarm clock, because if I woke early enough, I would have been able to cajole and wheedle my voice into some submission, and I was reading about a Witch so crochety wasn’t totally unwarranted). She said she couldn’t think of one at the moment, but just by virtue of the conversation, she was now thinking on it (and I could see she was—what thing, no matter how small do we take for granted, but if it were gone the whole does not hold? And if it’s so why isn’t it being honored, reviewed as such?)
The upshot? I’m learning forgiveness, so perhaps all this hardship will do some good after all. I will make different mistakes, I don’t think I will ever stop relying on people, because honey, that’s what we do whether we admit it, want to, or know it. I just need to spread it out and be more forthcoming myself. I came away with projects, a new view. I’ll get up in that saddle again. And I will make sure I have a LOT more of it in my work. The concept of forgiveness is as strong as they come, because in the end it’s a SURVIVAL mechanism, and so is gratitude. I don’t and won’t talk religion. These concepts are grand in and of themselves, and we need them for ourselves and each other, and actually utilize them. In the end, blame doesn’t work, but responsibility is a different thing. Stories are good, truth is better, so if it’s a story, make sure there’s a kernel of truth to build on or it doesn’t hold. And use a huge smattering of forgivenees and gratitude, because it is what embodies kindness. Another washing…
And then I remembered this:
At the beginning of this day, I was an utter failure. At the end of it, I’ve fulfilled one of my life’s mission, to be kinder. Something I wouldn’t have done without all the drama, heartache (and I’m not exaggerating, it’s been a tough one) and trauma. My work, which perhaps no one but me will know or care about, will be informed by what I learned and believe (deeper) today. And tomorrow is another day.
Now that I’m cleaner, this is where I’m headed: