The Moment

Do you ever have the Moment?

You know the one where a flood of self-doubt arrives from nowhere and washes your ambition away?  Where writing three original words in a row looks like a physical, emotional and spiritual impossibility?  Where you think to yourself: “Self, you don’t have it in you.  You never did.  You’ll never write like those other guys.”

I had the Moment last night.

I threw one of my shorts out for a critique and it came back covered in red ink.  And everything they said was right.  That was the hardest part.  Every criticism was on target.  And it stopped me dead in my tracks and I couldn’t breathe for awhile.  I lay awake most of the night trying to recage my gyros.  Can I really do this?

Robert Collier said: “Sooner or later there comes a crisis in our affairs, and how we meet it determines our future happiness and success.”

This morning, an epiphany.  There are a hundred Moments between me and my publishing deal, maybe more.  I’ll have to struggle through every one.  Somehow I have to learn to live with the idea that constant self improvement and criticism is a part of the process, this wonderful terrible beautiful painful passion called writing.

And I can do it.  So can you.

What about it?  How do you deal with your Moment?

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12 Comments

  1. Liza said:

    I do what you did. I write about it, and then I move on.

    January 30, 2010
    Reply
  2. Oh I know that hurt. Yes, my moments come frequently. They're hard to pass through sometimes. The way I deal with it is to remind myself writing is a process much like learning to play a sport. I have to practice and listen to instructions along the way to improve.
    Winged Writer

    January 30, 2010
    Reply
  3. Falen said:

    ugh i hate those moments. For me they tend to come when i'm in the middle of writing and i realize somthing in the plot or characterization isn't going right. And then BAM the moment hits me. Typically my moments will last for a couple days, maybe a week. But i just wait them out. They all go away sooner or later. Or maybe i try to find some really bad writing to read, because that will leave me saying "i can write better than that…"

    January 30, 2010
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  4. Jon Paul said:

    Liza–yeah, the writing does help, though I forget that sometimes.

    Catherine–I'm with you. My metaphor of choice is playing music (which I also do from time to time). I still remember how impossible it seemed to even play a single chord when I was a kid. That's the stage I am at with my writing now–still practicing the fundamentals.

    Falen–the symptoms are the same for me. My ennui usually relates to realizing I go something completely wrong. Why didn't I see that? I think, but of course it's because I'm still getting my feet wet. Patience is a virtue I have not yet mastered.

    Thanks for stopping by guys!

    January 30, 2010
    Reply
  5. JP–Every error, every rejection gets you one step closer to publication. The fact that you realized the red ink suggestions were good suggestions shows that you are growing as a writer. :) Best wishes!

    January 30, 2010
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  6. Ouch – I get back up, dust myself off, then do it all again. You learn to fall easier after a while :)

    Just wait until the rejections start coming in – That's where the testing begins!

    Now get back to it!

    PS Where'd yer lighthouse go?

    January 30, 2010
    Reply
  7. Jon Paul said:

    Sharon–thanks! I didn't realize that but I guess you're right.

    Rachel–You're right. Must. Toughen. Up. BTW, do you mean my profile photo? It wasn't a lighthouse. It was a pic of a guy far far away. Nobody could tell what it was. That's the reason why I removed it. 😀

    Thanks ladies!

    January 30, 2010
    Reply
  8. Postman said:

    I quit on it. I stop for a while, get up, go take a walk, or read something that inspired me, just to get the old can-do feeling back again. It usually works. Mostly my Moments are just my inner weasel coming out anyway. I just have to beat him back down again. If I may paraphrase Churchill, criticism serves the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. It's not a personal attack, nor a taunt. It's just a tool. I'm sure your writing a cut above everyone else's, even with the red ink.

    And by the way, I knew what your old photo was…

    January 31, 2010
    Reply
  9. Jon Paul said:

    Postman–yeah, I do that unconsciously too. I've taken much of this weekend off and it's been a sweet recipe for getting my head straight.

    That Churchill quote rocks BTW.

    January 31, 2010
    Reply
  10. glnroz said:

    just keep on, it was just that person's opinion. but then, you know all about that. lol

    February 1, 2010
    Reply
  11. Alex Jenson said:

    You will never please everyone, so just please yourself and be grateful for the positive comments. I think if you want to get anywhere, like any other area of life you need a thick skin, you need to be able to absorb criticism without letting it eat away at you, and you need to believe in what you are doing. Practice and practice all the time, and eventually you'll uncover the nugget of gold. Sweat is always the answer.

    February 4, 2010
    Reply
  12. Jon Paul said:

    Thanks Alex! I feel exactly the same way. I'm a little out of practice is all.

    Thanks for the encouraging words.

    February 4, 2010
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