One of the things about writing is that the same pieces of wisdom keep being re-applicable–not even just to the writing itself but to how I handle it. How I handle it. Maybe you have the same thing, but if you do, I bet it’s not all the same pieces of wisdom. We keep trying to reach out with the things that work for us, hoping that we can save other people time and trouble and heartache–or sometimes hoping that we will look wise and strong–but there’s only some overlap. A lot of this, I keep finding out over and over again, is finding out which mistakes we each make, which ways we each go to extremes, and countering those. And so my own advice to myself is most useful when it’s clear that it’s not universal, when I know that it might apply to you, or it might not, or it might apply to you sometimes and not other times.
For all that people talk about Twitter being a trashfire, it has been a social outlet for me. I wasn’t around for the glory days of usenet. I hit the peak of livejournal, when writers were exchanging comment threads, 20, 30, 50 comments a post. And I see some dreamwidth posts like that nowadays, but…not many, not routinely, usually when someone is having a crisis. And that’s fine. For me, right now, the social internet is Slack and Twitter. It won’t be like that forever, I’m sure, because the internet is impermanent. It’s like that now.
But one of the things the brevity of Twitter means is that if I express having circled back to one of the same places, even with a new 280-character limit, I’m going to run into helpful n00bs who feel that they can give me good advice. I thought of that last night. I sold a story this week–Uncanny bought “Lines of Growth, Lines of Passage,” which is exciting and awesome, and I am very happy about it. But I have been focused on longer works this year, and some of those longer works have been recalcitrant, and so the number of short fiction works I have in submission has been creeping down as I sell things. I am adjusting to this new normal, to not having large numbers of works in submission at a given time as a security blanket. I have talked about this before.
This is not the sort of thing that works well on Twitter. Because the one-size-fits-all circle-around-to-it advice is “keep trying!” and “you can do it!” Well…yes. I can. That’s why I sold a story this week. The second level is well-meant chiding: you don’t have a problem, you’re selling things! Well…yes and no. When you have a coping mechanism and it slips out from under you, you may not have a crisis, but you do have a problem. It’s not the same problem. It is a problem. I’m not looking for a buzzword quick fix, I am looking to process an emotion about a thing I know how to fix. Or if not fix, at least what to do. What to do next.
There’s a lot that’s like this, unfortunately. Where you know what you need to do, and you just need to do it, and it’s bumpy along the way. And there is good stuff, stuff to celebrate, yay! Really genuinely good stuff. But also: oh look, it’s time for that emotion. And for that thing to process that emotion. Again. Well. Okay. It does get different with repetition. I do find my way to another place in some ways. And in other ways: fewer things in circulation, funny feeling, check. Okay.