One of my very best friends was looking through this amazing artist’s work the other night. The artist’s name is Julie Arkell. You should check her stuff out. Super cute. Anyway, my friend kept showing me the pieces she loved and I would smile and nod and tilt my head in agreement. They were all amazing, sweet, whimsical.
But one of the pieces really stuck with me. This one.
A small, seemingly insignificant charm that says, “safe.” So simple, but soooo important. I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
And maybe it was because I had spent the evening talking and laughing and wrapped-up-warm with my two very best friends, but I felt soooo that. So safe. Then I kept thinking and I realized that it’s not just my girlfriends, (though they are wonderful and oh-so-pretty) but that there are a ton of things in my life that have lead me to feel safe. My super-amazing-best-friend-sweetest-guy husband extraordinaire, my supportive family, my cozy house, my fun job, etc.
The thinking continued and I started making connections with being a writer (not very hard to do). Feeling safe as a writer is SO the-most-important! And we must surround ourselves with people who make us feel that way. People like the shining gems I get to call my critique partners. People who laugh at the funny parts of my books and cry at the sad parts and love the characters everyone else hates (ahem, John). =) Yes, these people are SO important to feeling safe, and let me tell you, I haven’t always been this lucky. I know what it can do to a person’s writing when they’re surrounded by people who are not so shiny and lovely and pure-hearted-made-of-the-best-stuff as these people I’ve found.
We can’t always count on people or things or outside-ness to keep us safe, especially our thoughts. As writers, we must, MUST learn how to be safe in our own minds. This self-talk can be sticks and concrete and mortar to build a super tall building (can you tell I have no idea how buildings are made?) or it can be a devastating heard of trample-footed, on fire elephants, knocking down everything and setting it ablaze so all you’re left with is sad and flat and charred.
I say this from experience. I’ve been in that sad, charred place. The elephants are gone, but it’s hard to feel safe again. To feel creative. I’m getting better, I hope. But I know we all fall into this type of thought-process at some point no matter how amazing of writers we are. I like to think even my role model, the amazing J.K.R., might even feel this way from time to time (betwixt writing best sellers and making more money than the queen). The key is to smack down that gobblin-y, destructive, slimy voice telling you you’re not good enough, telling you that the one person who hated it was right, telling you that you should really just eat a pint of ice cream and fall asleep in a puddle on the couch.
My other best friend is getting ready for some pretty important job interviews this week. I told her that she needs to keep thinking about how she’s amazing, smart, perfect for the job, and she looks gorgeous. After I said this, she replied, “Then that’s what I’ll do. I’ll keep thinking your thoughts instead of mine.” Isn’t she smart!? She knew her thoughts would be filled with doubt and gobblin-y sliminess. So she kept repeating mine. Sometimes we need to trust what others say over what we’re saying to ourselves. Repeat someone else’s encouraging words for a while if you need to. Get yourself out of the trample zone.
Start feeling safe.
I write this blog in a safe place. But I’m oh-so-uncomfortably close to the trample/burn zone. I entered this contest, you see, and we find out on Wednesday if we’re one of the “chosen.” And as much as I would scream and cry and run around in happy circles if I am one of them, I’m trying to stay safe in my mind. Just in case. And hopefully when I get the rejection email, as I most probably will, I will remain in that safe head space. Because when I’m there, I’m able to pick up the pieces (because they aren’t burnt or squashed) and put them to use elsewhere, say toward querying agents, where I’m sure this idea of safety will be tested even more.
Wish me luck.