Last month I wanted a change, so I chopped off my hair. I had hair down my entire back, and now it barely covers my ears. It’s certainly changed, but it’s not cute. In fact, it’s an absolutely terrible home haircut. I should be more upset. Or, ideally, I should love the “new me .” Instead I simply have something new to dislike when I look in the mirror.
This got me thinking about my writing. I love to write. I’ve been writing since I was a child, but it’s always been without an audience. I write for me, so if it sucks, that’s ok. I can laugh at it or learn from it. Sometimes I turn it into something I love. I have yet to turn any of my stories into books, and I wonder if I lack ambition.
I’ve made changes to my writing life and have started down the path of publication one tiny brick at a time. I’m far from Oz, but a part of me feels I’m going to get the same advice as Dorothy if and when I get there: navigating the journey isn’t the problem; the problem is me.
I should be more upset when I receive submission rejections. Yet, I’m happy to see those rejection emails come in because it’s proof there’s someone out there fishing my bottled messages out of the water. Writing definitely can feel like a deserted island.
Have I become too comfortable with failure? Failure may be a strong word, perhaps mediocracy. Is this all just leftover COVID slump? I was unhappy with my hair and simply took scissors to it, not caring how it turned out. And now it’s terrible. I’m working with it and styling it the best I can, but yeah, It’s pretty bad. I do NOT like what I see in the mirror, yet I just keep laughing at how bad it is rather than wishing I didn’t do it. And now, there’s nothing I can do but wait.
And while I wait, I ask myself, shouldn’t this bother me more? Don’t people cry when they ruin their hair?
It made me realize how comfortable I’ve become with failure. My hair will grow back, and I’m ok waiting and creating new awkward styles until I like it, but I should be upset. I enjoy writing and creating stories, but I should be upset that no one reads them. I realize I have no drive when it comes to my writing. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m patient about my hair, it is only hair, and it will grow back. But this new person in the mirror has made me rethink my writing life. Because I know that person would have looked a lot better if I had simply cared more. I was too used to disliking my reflection and did not pick up the scissors with the intent to look better- I just wanted change. I was prepared for a new ugly me.
Let me repeat that: I was prepared for a new ugly me.
If this is how I approach my writing life, it’s no wonder I don’t mind rejections. It’s not surprising that no one reads my stories other than critique partners. My writing can be so much more. I’m not saying I’ll become published simply because I want more for my writing. I’m saying I can enjoy it more if I higher my standards and stop expecting failure. I’m glad I’ve accepted this ugly reflection, but I should not have expected it. In writing, it’s good to accept failure, but expecting it is failure itself.