Last night on #yalitchat we were talking pitches and I was inspired anew by a lot of ideas described in 140 characters or less! As is the most sane approach when participating in one of these things, I RTed a couple of great ones and started conversations with people, laughing at the keyboard and considering thought-provoking points. One person wrote how she could pitch her work on paper, but if she ever had to do it live, she'd die. This struck me as ridiculous as her idea was golden and so I replied:
"You never know. You're a writer! You are capable of unimaginable, unstoppable brilliance."
The room ate that up and she tweeted back that she felt like pumping her fist and roaring so virtually did (I can't say whether she actually did, but wouldn't THAT have been cool?!) and it struck me how often we doubt ourselves, downplay ourselves, apologize, worry, fret and otherwise psychically wring ourselves out like wet towels and hang ourselves out to dry, dripping sadly on the floor. It's hardly an empowering image. I'm the absolutely last person to say that everything is rosy and give false platitudes like "everything will work out for the best" or "there's always a bright side to everything", but I *can* offer this wake-up call: writers are anything but powerless!
The pen is mightier than the sword, remember and even if it's just in our own corner of the universe (page, journal, blog, cyberspace, whatever) we can create worlds full of people, feelings, thoughts, dreams, imagination, action, consequences, and memories in the making. We make the impossible possible, change the ordinary to our whim, invent things that never happened before and circumstances that might have been full of people and places we'd like to share with more strangers than we will ever meet in person. We can reach out across time and space and touch someone with our words. We create a common language (Muggles, anyone?) and spark ideas about a possible future (dystopians, anyone?). How can anyone who wields such incredible power feel powerless? Because of criticism? Piles of rejections? Writer's block? Obstacles in the industry? The evolution of publishing? Queries? Pitches? Hooks? The truth is that these things can only make you better: your art can only continue to thrive if there's resistance, pushing you to improve, forcing you to try harder. BUT YOU CANNOT LET IT GET YOU DOWN! You are a writer because you can't *not* write, right? Hold onto that and onto the gifts of epiphany that fuel you. (And if you haven't seen that linked TED talk with Elizabeth Gilbert, go back and click it!)
So if you're feeling ragged, take a moment to rediscover your awesome power because surrounding yourself in a community of like-minded creative people can be essential to survive as a writer (or artist, or human being). Check out SCBWI or another national organization forum, Verla Kay's Blueboards, tune into #yalitchat, #kidlitchat, or create an online critique group of your own to turn to when things are rough (and when things are FANTASTIC).
You're a writer. You are capable of unimaginable, unstoppable brilliance.