Look, normal people don’t become writers. Our agents know this. Our editors really know it. We may look normal (although, on any given day, this is debatable for me), we may be able occassionally to function normally at social events, but, down in our marrow, we are social deviants on some level, our ids more or less toddlers left to swing off the chandeliers at a grown-up party.
Writers have sick relationships with pain and rejection. All that hooey about “writing for yourself?” Not really true! Come on! Novelists, in particular, are always writing to someone, even if it’s just a mysterious being in his or her own head.
In order to finish a novel, and then spend months or years revising it, in order to put it out there and get rejected by hordes of agents and publishers, and then perhaps get clobbered by reviewers or, worse, have no one buy what you wrote, you have to either have delusions of grandeur or a masochistic temperament that thrives on public humiliation.
Maybe I’m outing my fellow writers, but aren’t we all a little bit Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde? I know I loathe rejection. I pout. I sulk. I mope in my office, alternately telling myself I deserve the failure or railing against the evil gods of fate that cast it upon me. Perspective goes out the window. Rational thought goes out the window. Chocolate goes down the throat.
Then I get mad. I concoct elaborate revenge fantasies, in which I graciously put those who failed to see my greatness in their places with a mere lift of my chin, shaming them deeply. My detractors wring their hands with sorrow and despair, whining to get back in my good graces.
Then one of my kids usually barges into my office, and I have to stop my wallowing and cook dinner.
And that’s a good thing. Because after the diaper is changed, and the noodles are boiled, and the laundry is spinning around in the dryer, I come back to my laptop–I won’t say totally sane–but steeled and ready to continue.
The truth is that each book is a journey, not just along a story line, but also into your own, twisted psyche. Be prepared. You won’t always like the strange beasts you meet inside your own soul. You won’t always anticipate how you will handle being told no, or maybe even being told yes. But you have to accept that self-revelation is part of the whole story of a book. So break out your pens. Turn on your laptops. Get your chocolate ready, and test out that chandelier.