I decided to blog about PMA this week. Yes, that’s it. Positive Mental Attitude. It’s the school holidays here, which means I have both my children at home with me 24/7 for the next 6 weeks. I also decided that I would decorate the entire house. One coat on the walls of my daughter’s not very big bedroom and I’m already so over that.
But it has to be done, so I have to ignore the animosity I feel every time I look at a paintbrush and get on with it (hopefully without getting any more paint on my knickers*).
Being a writer involves an incredible amount of PMA. You have to keep going when the writing is going badly, and when you just don’t want to, which happens more often than you’d think. Publishing is equally as dispiriting. You have to keep that spark of optimism alive when you win an online pitch contest, only to hear nothing back for the best part of a year (so they liked it enough to pick it, but not enough to read it) until you get a standard R for your partial. You have to keep it when you pitch face to face to an editor who tells you that she really likes this story, only to get a standard R from a different editor 3 weeks later (in the same email as the other R mentioned above). You have to keep it when a junior editor tells you that they love a story and want to buy it, only to then ignore your emails for several months until you get a very scathing rejection from a senior editor saying that the story is so flawed that no amount of editing could fix it. You have to keep it when the frustration and confusion caused by editor silence makes you want to tear your hair out. All of these things happened to me, BTW. The publishing road is emotionally very tough, and it will cripple you if you let it.
And when you’ve got the publishing contract, you still have to keep that optimism, as you worry about whether the story you want to write about a witch who rides a Harley Davidson is really the right move for your career right now, and whether or not you’re writing fast enough, because it seems that everyone is writing so much more than you are, publishing more than you are, selling more than you are (which makes you feel like you have the worst PMT ever and would quite like to get in an MMA ring with all those prolific people and kick their successful behinds). Rarr,
No wonder writers have a reputation for being depressed and drinking a lot.
At the end of the day, the publishing aspect of writing is entirely out of our control. We can control what we write, and how we feel about what we write.
How do you hang on to your PMA?
*the paint did wash off, proving that even if you get paint on your knickers, it’s not the end of the world.