Thursday, November 4, 2010

Guest Post: Steve Cushman

Please join me in welcoming Steve Cushman, author of Heart with Joy to Debbie's Book Bag today. This tender and heartwarming YA novel is a coming of age story about a young boy who finds he has some tough decisions to make.

What I Like And Don't Like About Being A Writer - Or How To Deal With Rejection

I'll start with the good stuff. I like writing because it allows me to create other worlds and live other lives. Not that my "real" life is bad at all. I'm fortunate enough to have a family and a home, but when I'm writing I feel like I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. When I'm at the computer and the house is quiet and I've gone off into this other world and I can see my characters walking down the street, can hear the words slip from their mouths, that is what I love to do. And then when a character does something that surprises me - let's say I've put a character in a grocery store and have sent them looking for milk (that much, I know) but then they turn a corner and say or see something I wasn't expecting at all. That's what I like about writing. I like how writing, and the story, stays in my head throughout the day. How I can be sitting there doing my day job and some piece of a story I've been working on for days, weeks, or months finally comes clear to me, and I can't wait to get back to the story the next morning.

Now, my least favorite part of writing has nothing to do with writing at all. It is the other stuff - the struggle of getting your work published, the waiting for your agent to return your calls, or e-mails, waiting to hear back from a publisher or a magazine. That stuff can be crippling to a writer if you let it. It can make you doubt your abilities. It can make you want to give up. And it can make you bitter towards those in "control" of the publishing world.

It's taken me a long time (about 15 years now) to figure out how to deal with rejection and the not knowing. I've learned that if writing is what I love to do then I need to spend any extra time in my day writing and not worrying about whether or not I'm going to get good news on a particular piece of writing. That is why I always have three or four writing projects going at once. This way I always have some writing work to do and I'm not sitting around waiting to hear back on a particular piece of writing. Then when the good news comes, great. If I get some bad news - a story or a novel was rejected, well that's okay, because at least I have some new writing, some proof that I am indeed a writer, someone who spends his days writing. And to me that's what is important. That I am lucky enough to get to do what I love and no one can take that away from me.