One of my writing mentors, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, has been doing a series of articles in her blog about how to be a freelancer. She’d originally conceived of doing writing a book, but realized that in these difficult times, people needed the information now.
The series is, well, outstanding. Kris has been a freelancer for most of her adult life, and she’s overcome her share of adversity more than once to be a successful, prolific award-winning writer and editor. She’s also not afraid to be honest, candid, and blunt.
So far she’s covered everything from how to set up your office to the various insurance issues you need to consider, but the article that so far has been the most useful to me is about Staying Positive.
You wouldn’t think that would be a hard thing at some stage of the game. Maybe at first, when the rejections pour in, but hey, I’ve sold two novels and 85 or so short stories. Certainly I must dance to the computer every day and the words flow while rainbow-colored sparks shoot out of my fingertips as I type, right?
Oddly, hearing someone I have respected for a very, very long time (I was a fan of Kris’s work well before I took the Master Class in March 2002, and I still sometimes have awestruck fangirl moments around her—note that above, I called her one of my writing mentors rather than one of my colleagues. I’m working on that. ::gg::) admit to having moments of self-doubt is somehow encouraging to me. I know that sounds weird. It sounds weird to me. But I know I put people I admire and respect up on pedestals, and I’m working on that, too.
One of the things Kris said she does to stay positive really resonated with me: She keeps a desk calendar at hand, and every day writes down the good things that have happened, writing-wise: fan mail, awards, payments, covers, and the like.
I had the perfect blank journal for this already waiting for me. It’s one that Phae bought for me in Lincoln City during one of our workshops there, at a coffee house with wireless Internet that we frequented (before the workshops moved to a hotel with wireless access). On the front it says, “This is the way you slip through into your innermost home: Close your eyes, and…surrender.” Inside are some other similar quotes. On the back it says, “Unfold your own myths.”
How fucking perfect is that?
So with a purple pen I’ve started logging things. Not every day (yet), but as they come in. The glowing thank you from the client calling my first CES story “PERFECT” (yes, in all caps). The nice things Shanna said about me in her blog (and which I at first downplayed in my own head, rather than embracing—I am prolific, dammit, and I have to believe that for it to be true). The recent e-mail I got from an editor about a novel query: She didn’t think it was for her, but rather than just rejecting it, she saw enough merit in it that she “checked with a few of [her] colleagues” and gave me the direct e-mail of another editor who’d like to see it.
I’m even tracking the good writing days, the ones where I hit my goals. No dancing or rainbows, but close enough for me. It’s good to be reminded that some days, the writing does flow. You just have to get out of your own way and let it happen.