Reflections on Defeat and Embracing the Writing Life

As I settle in to my role as a full-time writer, one obstacle after another has tried to chip away at my hope and chipper ideals for my future as a published author. I’ve had my fair share of personal losses, bouts of self-doubt and futility, and looming questions about which career path I’m meant to follow. This, ladies and gentlemen, has been the season of serious self-exploration.

I’ll admit that I was very honest with myself about my prospects for after graduation. I had given some thought to the application process for my Licensed Professional Counselor-Intern (LPC-I) license, and I had given due consideration to the numerous comments I’d heard about the metroplex being saturated with counselors. Daunting? Sure. But I didn’t let it damper my hopes as I ordered my regalia, dawned my cap and gown, and tried not to fidget with my tassel as several of my friends and I waited to file out onto the coliseum floor. I had told myself that the job hunt after graduation would be a tough and drawn-out process, and that there would be a lot of trial and error.

We Made It!
After the ceremony
Friends!
Happy moments like these keep me moving forward

Here I am nearly three months after I walked the stage, still unsure about jumping into the great unknown. I’ve tried; I applied to ten different jobs over the past three months, submitted all the paperwork for my LPC-I over the course of two months, and endured rejection after rejection from one potential employer after another. The struggle is all too real.

The bright side of this uphill climb shines clearly in my writing endeavors. In January of this year alone, I wrote 16,447 words in my latest novel, Stalder Press to Handstand, including the final chapter! I concluded the first draft of this work – my very first Post-Apocalyptic story – on January 16th, which means that I wrote an average of 1,027 words per day from new year’s day until the 16th. That’s one serious turnout!

Embracing my identity as a writer continued strong into the next two months. I began revising my very first novel, In the Words of Your Love, the final week in January, carefully doing line and developmental editing (with plenty of green, pink, and yellow highlights thrown in for good measures). As of today, I’ve edited 31 chapters and have only 14 more to go.

Editing Key
The editing key I’m currently using. Thanks to Paula Munier for developing it!

Lastly, I have been moving full steam ahead with my current work, a trilogy known as The Virility Project. I started book one way back in September of 2009 when I was a wee sophomore in college. Now that I’ve studied my craft, joined a writers’ critique group, and done months of research, I feel much more well equipped to tackle this massive saga of war, religion, dogma, patriotism, and friendship head on. Book one of my trilogy is coming along super well; since February 8th, I’ve penned 40,874 words. I’m still in awe over that!

Even with all this progress until my belt, it’s hard to feel like I’m standing directly in the middle of these crossroads. I see myself as a counselor through and through; I know my empathy, graduate school education, and internship training have made me a highly well-rounded professional. Yet I also fully embrace the writer that I am. I believe with all my heart that the quality of my fiction has grown by leaps and bounds, especially within the last three months. I’m on the right path to finding a supportive editor and a willing publisher in order to get my work out there for a wide variety of readers.

Crossroads

 

What’s my biggest fear as of tonight? The answer comes to my mind pretty easily: I’m scared of staying a full-time writer, of living off of my late father’s money for too much longer, of being secretly scorned for not having a “real 9-to-5 job.” What if I keep writing and never look back? Never become a full-time counselor? These are the thoughts that I sift through at least once a day.

Tonight, though, I put myself at ease. Writing is my passion, and I am in the best position I’ve ever been in to fully pursue my dream. I can face up to the rejection letters and take the well-earned criticisms of my work in stride, but more than that, I can embrace the wide spectrum of my own identity. It isn’t one or the other, for I have it in me to keep writing consistently while also working a job as a professional counselor. In the end, there is really nothing quite as liberating as realizing that.

What are some sabotaging thoughts or concerns that you’ve had on your journey to publication? Do you wish you had dedicated more time to your writing craft? If you write and work outside of that, how do you balance the two?

 

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