The ramblings and musings of author and musician Geoffrey Young Haney.
Much more coherent and loveable fare from his wife, Michelle.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

On An Island or The "Buts" of Life

An author by the name of Jon Gibbs (An Englishman in New Jersey) guest blogged today on agent/author Nathan Bransford's very popular blog and posed a rather interesting question to all us writers out there:

Is your "but" too big?

No, this is not some kind of fat joke. It is a warning to us to look at our "buts" - all those hundreds of little excuses we throw up in front of ourselves as to why we're not working towards making our dreams come true.

Writers too, have built-in ‘buts’ as it were:
“I’d love to write, but I just don’t have the time.”
“I’d love to write, but I don’t know anything about grammar.”
“I’d love to write, but there’s no writing group where I live.”

If you ask me, none of those ‘buts’ matter. They’re all just a way of avoiding the real problem, the biggest ‘but’ of them all:

“But I might fail.”


The fear of failure can stop a person from even trying.
I have been feeling that final "but" quite a lot these days. I shared as much with Jon and the readers with a comment I left. I would like to share it here with you:

Absolutely needed to hear this one today. Thank you so much for the post, Jon.

I think my major "but" has surfaced on other comments, but it'd have to be simply "but who cares?". I'm into my second year of really taking a stab at getting published and when one first ventures on this journey, it's pretty easy to feel the love. People LOVE hearing that someone is going to try to "make it" out in the world. But after my first submissions to agents came back with form rejections (of course, a pretty standard thing to expect on one's first go at it), the well-wishers tended to slink into the shadows. Even people I've worked on my stories with have seen less interested in my eventual success. As we dive into further and further revisions and critiques as writers, as we dive into possibly even new stories and put old ones to bed, all our hard, unexciting work can easily be viewed as not that much work at all.

We say we want to write that one (or 100) story that's boiling up in us and people are ready to jump on the bandwagon. But when months or years go by without payoff or visible result, it can and often does seem to be viewed as "failure". And its hard to shake the feeling of even being perceived as a failure! It stifles creativity and keeps us further from achieving our dreams.

So that's my biggest "but". "But who cares?" I need to remember that I care - because I really, truly do - and if I'm going to continue putting the amount of hours into making this dream a reality, then there is no room in my schedule the "buts".

I've been feeling like an island these past couple months. Every since moving out to Grandville I guess. I thought moving back to Zeeland would be rough, but there I had friends and family close at hand. In Gville it's pretty much me and my lady, stranded in suburbia, stuck between our small town home and the bigger city we left behind last winter. But I think my loneliness goes deeper than mere location. There's a seclusion I've been pouring myself into ever since I began to tackle this writing thing. It's a necessary evil; writing stories - truly crafting tales of professional merit with the intent to publish them - takes a lot of time. Time alone.

But lately I've been feeling the stress of this island living, and the "buts" are creeping in. "But is it all worth it?" "But what if I can't find an agent?" "But what if this isn't the story I should be focusing on?"

"But what if I fail?"

Being blessed with a child on the way also brings on that added pressure to succeed. And as people become less interested in what I do with my writing, the encouragement is harder and harder to find. It's human nature, of course, to be entertained. And nothing could be more boring than sending out query letters or doing final edits. Believe me, I know! But it's hard to shake the demon on my back that's telling me that no one cares anymore; telling me to hang it all up.

Michelle was really there for me yesterday. It was a rough day, one of those days when no silver lining could be found. She encouraged me to keep going, and called me out on my pessimism. And that's not always an easy thing to say or to hear. But this morning I awoke with new determination, inspiration, and hope.

So maybe I am out on this island. Maybe I am just one waterless day away from total madness. But at least I've got company, and she'll hold my hand no matter what kind of raving lunatic I become! Now that's love.


Let's sail away
Find our own country
We'll build a house and beds out of palm trees
Let's get away
Let's push our lives aside

I'll sport a smile
Take in some color
Under the stars
I'll be your lover
With no distractions I'm gonna treat you right

Well it seems like things are only getting better
Well it seems like we can never catch a break

Just a keep a hold on me don't let go
If you float away, if you float away
Waiting too long for a ship to come
Don't you float away, don't you float away

Let's go to bed
Let's stop debating
Look at the time
We're always waiting
But we're in love
And that should be just fine

And if you like (and if you like)
and if you like some other time
I would like to introduce you to the finer things
If we survive (if we survive)
If we survive, get out alive
I'd like to say how beautiful I think you really are

Just a keep a hold on me don't let go
If you float away, if you float away
Waiting too long for a ship to come
Don't you float away, don't you float away

Island by The Starting Line

1 comment:

jongibbs said...

hi Geoff,

Sorry it took so long to get here.

Thank you for the kind words.

Good luck with your approaching parenthood. Being a dad is loads of fun, and whenever it gets stressful, just remind yourself of your long term plan - to go and live with your kids when your ninety, and get revenge ;)