My friend and colleague Greg Korgeski, a psychologist and writer, said the other day, “Tell you the truth, I’ve seldom felt that life was all that welcoming for many of the gifts we want to share . . . it’s slow, slogging, frustrating . . . just enduring sometimes and living on hope. There is also so much luck involved.”
Okay, so Greg wasn’t in the cheeriest mood ever when he sent that note along to me, but I think we’ve all been there, in the middle of the tough slog, and wondering if it’s worth continuing the trek.
(On reading the above characterization, Greg told me, “I might not agree that it reflects a less than cheery mood, though. . . .Gritty people say this kind of thing with joy, not grumpiness.”)
But anyway. (Work with me, here.) If you’re a writer who has ever thought of giving it all up to become an accountant instead, raise your hand. Right. That would be all of us.
Is the slog worth it? Some days I know the answer to this question. Other days I don’t.
Probably because of my past experience, I don’t tend to have too much trouble getting through the tough slog when I’m working on non-fiction. I’ve been in the middle of plenty of 320-page books when it looked like all I would ever be writing about for the rest of my life was baby brain games, but it turned out that by keeping my butt in my chair, the task was accomplished. The book was finished and published, and I got to revel in the feeling of accomplishment and, you know, the advance money.
With fiction – and with any goal that I haven’t achieved twenty-two times before – I’m more inclined to self doubt. Will this be worth it? Wouldn’t my time be better spent doing something else? In every novel – as in every worthy goal – there is the middle part. This is the hardest part. The excitement of the beginning has worn off, and the end is not in sight. This is the Sahara desert, and what made you think it was a good idea to wander into it? You could go back, but that doesn’t seem like any kind of answer. You could go forward, but what if you’re just wandering around in circles? You could just stand there, but then you’re going to die of thirst.
Okay, enough with the uplifting analogies. The secret to getting through the tough slog is resolve. You want to know how to get some? Stay tuned.