Thursday, February 5, 2009

On Rejection and Self-Defeating Behaviors

Kelli has a great post at her blog, where she considers rejection and thinks about some of her self-defeating behaviors. I particularly love when she says, "Do not listen to the voice inside your head that says you are not good enough. I don't believe there's a devil, but if there is, I believe he's a poetry critic."

For me, my self-defeating behavior seems to come in cycles. I go for months where I work out a good balance of writing new work, revising/typing into the computer new work, and sending out poems and manuscripts. Then something schedule related happens (often a work crisis or travel or a bad cold), and I'm off balance, often for weeks at a time.

At least now that I've been writing awhile, I can recover more quickly. And I often realize that I'm off balance sooner than I once did. Of course, I can't always do anything about it. But I try not to sink into despair. I try to remind myself that my muse is always there, waiting patiently for me to return. Even when I can't write, she's noticing connections and taking notes.

One advantage to my move into administration, which requires that I be in my office for 40 hours a week, is that when I have a pocket of free time, I seize it. I'm like a woman whose child takes an extra long nap, and she's ready to hit the computer. I'm much more focused because my schedule demands it. I don't have the luxury that I used to have as full-time faculty, the luxury of saying, "Well, I don't really feel inspired today. I'll write/revise/send out tomorrow." Nope, I probably won't have time tomorrow, and the next day's looking pretty full as well. When I have time, I leap right in, often with ideas I've been saving for days, weeks, until I have a free moment to compose.

Even if we can't be writing/revising/sending out, we can be strategizing so that we're ready to go. We can imagine ourselves sealing up those envelopes. We can think about the images we're going to use in a poem, the next time we get a breath of free time to write them down. The most successful athletes use this mental imaging technique to get better, even when they're not physically training. We can learn from them.

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