Fighting My Battles

So, here’s the truth…

I can’t go to the movies without tearing up. Like, not ever. I am already overwhelmed with emotion when the trailers for upcoming movies come on. I am truly moved by movie commercials. I get sucked in, my heart leaps with excitement and joy, I’m fascinated by the sound, I’m on the edge of my seat the entire time. I just KNOW that the movie they advertise will be not only great, but phenomenal! I look at movies with a naïve innocence. For example, I REFUSE to fall asleep while a movie is on and am actually OFFENDED when someone does. I feel that the people who put it together are totally insulted by such an act. Thinking about it, I’m probably not a very fun person to watch movies with because I get the glee of a young child on Christmas- which to normal people that can be seriously annoying.

That said, my entire life I was drawn to movies and books. More so movies than books, ironically. As a child I wanted to be an actress or writer. As a teen I wanted to be an artist, actress, or writer. I’ve always had a passion for the arts. If one person asked me how I would ever measure my success as a writer, my response would be, I need to see one of my books on the big screen. My desire for this is strong and I’m actually strangely driven by the unlikelihood of the whole idea. I don’t care that it’s not likely- I’m going to die trying. That’s just how I face things in my life. I’ve always faced battles with a humble courage. Humble because I know the odds are against me. Courage because though I know everything is against me, I will continue to strive step-by-step to get there. It doesn’t even matter to me that I may or may not have talent. That won’t keep me from trying.

So, this past spring something strange happened to me. I was close to accomplishing my dream. Like on the verge of actually getting a taste of what I have strived for my entire life. I KNEW I was getting it. I had the faith, the commitment, the work was put in. I just KNEW that my book was going to be accepted and turned into a movie. I claimed it. I spoke like it had already happened. I KNEW I finally broke through and made it to where I have been striving to go. I had some confirmation in that knowledge. I read that Hallmark rejects their writers quickly. That the longer they have the novel the higher up it gets. They had my book three months. Others were dropping off quickly. I was talking to other authors who also tried. They were rejected within a month of submission for the most part, some a week or less. This solidified my belief that I had actually succeeded in my goals.

Then I got the rejection. My work has been rejected a thousand times before. That has never been a let down to me. Stephen King himself was rejected literally hundreds of times. JK Rowling too. Christina Cooper being rejected was just part of the process. Not this time. The rejection from Hallmark made me sick. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. At first, I tried to take it like it didn’t matter. I was only lying to myself. I cared more than anything. It hurt. I am not sure why it hurt so much more than anything else, but it did. Possibly because I KNEW I had it. I felt vulnerable. Often writers struggle with something called, ‘imposter syndrome’. I tend to struggle hard with this. Hallmark’s rejection was enough to send me over the edge. I had finally had enough. I quit writing. I no longer felt the desire to push. I surrendered and took it as defeat. I told myself, “I will never make it so there’s no point.”

Ironically, when I received my rejection, I was in Indiana doing some book signings. I had three weekend engagements booked and I was selling a ton of books. It was fun. My final weekend, right after my rejection, was my best day for book sales. I slapped a smile on my face and sold my work. In my head, that was going to be the last book signing I was ever going to subject myself to. I was even invited to do a few more over the summer, but I declined. I felt broken.

Worse, I was struggling at work. Me and my direct supervisor didn’t see eye-to-eye in anything. Like, literally nothing. All the hard work I felt like I put into my job completely vanished. I went from feeling good about going to work everyday to feeling alone, like a failure. Then my dad got sick. Really sick. I thought we were going to lose him. Essentially, at that point in my life, I just threw my hands in the air and said, “why me Lord?” I had dealt with my daughter’s illness for the past two years before that. The whole time I was managing okay. I had a supportive supervisor, I felt heard, I felt valued, I felt good about myself and I was taking care of myself- writing.

When I was rejected, when I felt devalued by my employer, when my dad got sick, when my daughter was still sick, I was overwhelmed. I wasn’t taking care of myself with my writing. Things piled up and I felt more stress than ever. I realized I had to do something about it, but I didn’t know what. I was sitting on a novel that I was a hundred pages into and totally let it go.

I needed something to change. I quit my job. That was a very good thing for me. When I had that burden off me, I started to focus my prayer life on my family. My kids, my dad, everyone’s health. After that, feeling approval from God, I started working on opening my business. I started to feel good. Whole again. I even started to paint again. But something was still missing…

Writing. Fortunately or not, it’s a part of who I am. Good at it or not, it’s in my soul. As much as it hurt, I had to pick myself up, brush the dirt off, and try again. I realize when you’re that passionate about something it’s going to hurt. My wound is raw, but I’ve never been a quitter. It’s time I start fighting my war again. The deadline I’m giving myself is February 1st. Will I ever see my books on the big screen? Honestly, probably not. But I now know that I am unable to quit trying, even when I think I want to.

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