My Life According to Certain Musicals

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE musicals. So I'll reference my feelings via my favorite musicals, because it's what I do in my head lol. Whenever I experience some type of disappointment, I always think of the leprechaun guy from Finian's Rainbow, who pronounces "DOOM AND GLOOM!" when he discovers his crock of gold has been stolen. Partly because I'm bummed, and partly because I think it's just plain funny.



"DOOM AND GLOOM!!!!!" *add ululations while wailing the words*

I've had times where I've felt like a failure. Like -- what's the point of this? Nothing is happening, I'm no good, no one wants my stuff, I might as well do something else, etc. All that woe-is-me crap that we feed ourselves when in reality it's not true, lol. I've worked this hard on this awesome book, and still love it. I've just gotten down on myself.

But I've also had those breakthrough moments. Like, some good news--FINALLY. This happened recently when, after a short writing drought, I wrote some new scenes!! Words flowed, valleys sprang forth with flowers and peanut clusters, the mountains shouted for peace on earth--okay, not really but you get the idea. And the morning after I woke up with this song in my head:




"I've got a goal again, I've got a drive again. I wanna feel my heart coming alive again, before the parade passes by!" 

It was so exhilarating to wake up and feel like I've accomplished something, like something is happening and I'm not just treading water anymore. It felt so good to write and have it just flow like it should, to not have to force it like I'd been trying to do for weeks. I heard Stephenie Meyer say something that has always stuck with me:

"Writing isn't like math; in math two plus two always equals four no matter what your mood is like. With writing, the way you feel changes everything."

It's so true. SO TRUE. The way you feel changes everything. And a lot of times I do my best writing when I'm angry or upset because I can recall those emotions for a scene that much stronger. But what about when you're discouraged? You've got to believe in yourself in this business, especially when the rejections pour in and you hear nothing but phrases like, "This just doesn't work for me," or "I just couldn't connect." You've GOT to believe in yourself.

Again, let's cue Barbara Streisand here.


When getting her who-knows-what-count rejection from Mr. Keeney, Fanny Brice sings this AMAZING song that will just rip your guts out and scramble them to believe in yourself because she still can. She knows what she wants, and she's determined to get it.

"Who is the pip with pizzazz? Who is all ginger and jazz? -- In all of the world so far, I'm the greatest star!"

So how do we believe in ourselves when we allow the rejection to hit where it counts? How do we pull ourselves back out of it? I'll give some suggestions that worked for me.


"She's got it, she's got it. I really think she's got it!"

-Talk to critique partners/friends. They are the biggest support (aside from my husband, but even then I can talk their ears off about writing when hubby sometimes lets me know he's had enough lol) They will give you NOTHING BUT SUPPORT.

-Let yourself off the hook. It's okay to fail once in a while. To wallow in it (as long as there isn't *too much* wallowing.) Once the pity party is over and the Oreo's are gone, remind yourself why. Why you're doing this, what you really want from it.

-Critique for someone else. This worked wonders for me, reminded me of the joy of helping someone else with their own mega-awesome work. My friend Liz Briggs is amazing at this--she's constantly doing things for other writers.

-Try writing something new. Who knows, but that you'll strike gold with a new idea, new project. Try writing a genre you've never written in before. Do you usually write in 1st person? Switch to 3rd.

What about you--what helps you overcome your slumps, writerly or otherwise? I'd love to hear it!! (And I won't mind if you sing!)


(P.S. All quotes from movies were taken directly from my head as I wrote this--so please pardon if I got a word or two wrong here and there!)
Cortney


5 comments

Leandra Wallace said...

I've been feeling pretty down lately, too. And I've not even started querying yet! =) Love the quote from S.M- so very true. Hope things keep on the up and up for you and the writing keeps flowing!

Tiana Smith said...

I LOVE musicals and I'm so glad I'm not the only one who will compare my life to theirs :) Yay for writing!

Anne Pfeffer said...

Hey Cortney:
Having read your manuscripts, I can say you definitely have what it takes. The talent and the guts -- you've got 'em!

And I love musicals too. I'm trying to think of an appropriate song to quote and all that comes to mind is "If I Were a Rich Man." I guess that's a post-publication song.

Cheers!

Morgan said...

Oh my gosh, Cort, we are the SAME PERSON!!!! You speak my language. Not only with the musicals (lol), but with the heart. I get this. I sooooo get this. And I love your list of things that helps us survive this process. You're probably the number one person who's gotten me out of my down moments. Having good writer friends is everything. And I know when I read your work, I totally get inspired to write. (When I'm not jealous or stealing your characters names, LOL!) :)

Such a great post. I agree that it's important to allow ourselves to mourn when things are down... eat those oreos... because I think it's all about embracing the process. We have to accept the lows to move on so we can feel those highs. Love this.

Ruth Schiffmann said...

So glad the words are flowing again! I can relate to that wanna sing, top of the world mentality. (I can relate to the lows too, but the ups are much more fun to talk about ;)

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