One of my favourite moofies from the 1980s was Heartburn with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.
I’m not sure why I loved it so. I’ve always been gaga for Streep. Also, she wore some snazzy (1980s) outfits in that film. Good beads. Capacious shoulder-bags. New York boho actress/writer/intellectual look.
That was a look, right?
And she was pregnant for most of the story. I was about to get married. I was thinking about babies. Motherhood intrigued me. I thought about it constantly.
There was a scene where Streep was in labour, being shuttled down hospital corridors on her way to have a C-section. And she’s pleading, ‘I don’t want to have this baby! Can’t someone else have it for me?’
I think of that when I’m writing books. They never come easily.
Honestly, I should sit on an air ring when I write.
But I also think of that scene in terms of this industry. How do you survive in such a tough industry? Not just financially but emotionally and psychologically?
I’m talking about the rejections, the marketing and promotion (for many, as comfortable as piles), the constant and often random public speaking, ditto the spruiking, the critics (professional and armchair), the isolation, the daily struggle to ‘be creative’…
‘I don’t wanna play!’ I yell from the trolley. Can’t I just write my stories and stay hidden? Can’t someone else do the tough stuff, the stuff that makes me feel vulnerable, makes me cringe, demands that I be (deep breath) visible? Sheesh. Sometimes it takes all my strength just to be pleasant.
My solution for many years was to harden the fark up. Push through. Get on with it. Stay focussed on the goal and keep plodding.
Sorry. That’s from my favourite poem…
My maternal grandmother was a farmer. She could slaughter a sheep, cook a roast for twelve shearers and single-handedly chop down a forest in one day. And she knew how to make do. Man, she was practical.
Her work ethic was my work ethic. DNA, yeah?
But pushing through is exhausting. And ultimately it’s not helpful, healthy or particularly effective.
In this field, pushing through can turn you into a hardarse. It can also make you bitter. You get single minded. You lose perspective. Your ego goes off its freakin’ face. Worst of all, you get boring.
So I’ve come up with other strategies. Other ways to keep me sane and grounded. To help me stay engaged and enthusiastic.
Develop other interests. Get community minded. Add value to the lives of others. Think laterally so you never miss a chance to grow and expand. Read lots of personal development books. Learn to look at the big picture. Get spiritual. Think beyond the book industry. Explore! The online business world is going nutso right now. All the old systems, the old ways of doing things, are crumbling. New opportunities are everywhere. Especially for women. It blows my mind.
Don’t allow yourself to stagnate. Stay vital, keep it real, be authentic. Be grateful and excited that as a creative you can add value to countless lives, not just the lives of your readers.
You can also add value to your own life. Did you know that? It’s safe to do that. It’s safe to add value to your own life and take care of yourself. Prioritise yourself. Creatives, particularly women, often don’t consider that. They play small. They’re too self-deprecating. They swallow the starving artist myth, no questions asked.
I’d love you to join our online community. It’s one of the warmest, most energetic and supportive kidlit groups in. the. universe. (And I NEVER exaggerate.)
Together we can enrich each others lives, enhance our own creativity and be there when the going gets tough.
See you in the Duck Pond, sunshine!