Saturday, January 07, 2017

A Humble Rabbit

“Well, I've got an idea," said Rabbit, "and here it is. We take Tigger for a long explore, somewhere where he's never been, and we lose him there, and next morning we find him again, and--mark my words--he'll be a different Tigger altogether."
"Why?" said Pooh.
"Because he'll be a Humble Tigger. Because he'll be a Sad Tigger, a Melancholy Tigger, a Small and Sorry Tigger, an Oh-Rabbit-I-am-glad-to-see-you Tigger. That's why."
"Will he be glad to see me and Piglet, too?"
"Of course."
"That's good," said Pooh.
"I should hate him to go on being Sad," said Piglet doubtfully.
"Tiggers never go on being Sad," explained Rabbit.

― A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

Sometimes, we are indeed our own worst critics.

Other times, we find it impossible to see things about us that we really should see, the not so shiny and bright things. It can be hard for those who care about us to tell us what we should know; they don't want to be critical or make us feel bad. And yet if a stranger tells us something maybe we should hear, it's too easy for us to think, "they don't know me" or "they don't get it" or "they're just being mean" and brush it off. Yes, sometimes those things are true.

Sometimes they aren't.

Defensiveness is a survival trait and we need it. Some of us, though, take it too far. Generally, the most defensive among us have very real reasons they're so defensive. We need to try to realize why we are if we are and try to work on that, for our own good. Journaling is a wonderful way to discover hidden parts of ourselves. We can't fix it until we understand it.

Realizing our faults can be a long battle, and once something happens that makes us see something we wish we hadn't seen, it can feel a bit earth-shattering, or at least a bit soul-shattering. We all go through it, at least any of us who are trying to grow and learn and bloom rather than shutting ourselves off in our "I don't care what anyone thinks" defensive stance. Many will never come out of that stance. I find that sad, because although it's hard to do the work of growth, the results are pretty incredible. The benefit of the hard work and sometimes soul-shattering acceptance of faults is well worth the end result of self-individualization.

We're not supposed to be perfect.

Repeat: We are not supposed to be perfect. We're not even supposed to try to be perfect. Like a character in any good novel, we're supposed to grow between point A and point B. If there is no growth from the beginning of the book to the end of the book (generally only a small part of one character's life), the reader is left wondering why she bothered to read it. Growth matters. Even if it only matters to that character, it matters.

How often do we all hop around like Rabbit thinking about how others annoy us without stopping to look at how we annoy others? Or about their faults without looking at our own faults? It's a humbling thing when you do bother. Of course we all have them and we all know we all have them, but do we stop to seriously take a look at them? Instead of spending the energy to get someone else lost in the woods so they'll learn a thing or two, maybe we should, now and then, let ourselves get lost in the dark, murky, scary woods of our own thoughts or actions or quirks or faults.

My own humble Rabbit moment came just yesterday. Actually, it's been building, but it whacked me upside the head yesterday. How many times have I read someone else's book and considered what was wrong with it? That's partly the downfall of the trade; it gets hard to read just for pleasure when you're constantly trying to critique in the guise of learning and improving. But I'm a tough reviewer. I am. I'm not mean about it and if I can't find more good than bad to say, I won't bother. Still... I remember thinking some time back that an author with several books, with the later books not being nearly as good as the first, needed to step back and slow down and renew the basics of what made her a good author in the first place rather than pushing the publication dates due to contracts and expectations of the industry.

Hm, well, yesterday it came to me that I've been doing the same lately. A book a year is the standard. Two books a year for the romance industry is fairly common. I've been doing one to two a year, even with having my work time cut in half the past couple of years. But I've had a lot of heartburn and soul-searching with this most recent book because it's "ready to go" and yet my gut said it isn't. I couldn't figure out why. Until yesterday. While I was reading someone else's contemporary romance and was drawn right into the scene from the imagery.

Ah. Imagery. Somewhere along the line, I lost that in favor of getting the story out.

So, the WIP is on hold until I can reclaim my former enjoyment of just the writing itself, of playing with pictures through words rather than considering how long it's been since the last one was out.

I'm a humble rabbit right now. If you don't see new books coming out for a while, know I'm still working. I'm just not pushing. Pushed art is no longer true art. They will be ready when they're ready.

Did you know callas need to go dormant for a few months in between growing seasons? No wonder the two I've been trying to coax along "back to health" aren't cooperating.

Sometimes you have to sit below ground and just take a break.


Mollie Lyon said...

Wow! It seems I have only that reaction to much of what I've read similar to my experiences lately. As I focused on getting my books noticed, writing fell way back to a burner on the big stove called life and hardly simmered. I almost, but never really, forgot about my dream in 2016. Burnout made the whole process mechanical.
I need time and rest. But not too much! It must be the art, not pumping out the books. Let's enjoy writing again.

Daisy Townsend said...

Well said, my friend! Kudos for being willing to take a step back and reclaim the former enjoyment of writing itself. I'll be praying for you through this process.

LK Hunsaker said...

Mollie, I think that's natural when "other life" overwhelms us and we don't get the down time we need to sit and daydream and let the thoughts flow. We'll have a better 2017, yes?

LK Hunsaker said...

Daisy, thank you. :)

Rosie Russell said...

Thanks! I needed to hear this today! :)
Wishing you the best for 2017!


LK Hunsaker said...

Thank you, Rosie! You, too!