Monday, May 21, 2012

Go On, Girl, Brush Your Shoulders Off

I was in a good mood this morning. I finished The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and it was so good. I was in the afterglow of reading a really good, true book. Then I bumped into someone I know and this is more or less what happened:

PERSON I KNOW: Hey! What's going on with your book?

ME: I finished the draft!

PIK: (unfazed) I know.

ME: Oh.

PIK: So, any updates?

ME: On what?

PIK: On the book.

ME: Oh. No. I mean, I only finished it a few weeks ago.

PIK: So you still working that freelance job?

ME: (visibly deflating) No, that ended a...well, a while ago.

PIK: So what have you been doing then?

ME: (attempts to laugh) That's a good question! It's been tough. I finished my job and my draft so I've been trying to write other things, job search, figure out what to do next, you know...

PIK: (shakes head like he finds this cute and amusing) It's a good thing your husband has a good job to support your lifestyle.

ME: ::blinks::

PIK: Well, I'll see you later.

ME: ...

And by then I was thoroughly deflated and I haven't managed to puff myself back up just yet.

Why do people say these things? Why do they feel that they CAN say these things? Curt likes to point out, very helpfully, that we've moved twice for his career and even if I had managed to find a full time job in Vermont, I would have had to leave it so we could move to Maine. Even so, it bothers me. It makes me feel useless.

I tried to perk myself up by watching Neil Gaiman's commencement speech at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. His post on it is here. It's a great speech. He talks about how if you don't think you know how to do something, just pretend you ARE someone who knows how, and then act like they would.

So I tried to pretend I was someone who wasn't bothered by what other people thought or said. I tried to shake off the cold creeping doubt and the heavy press of guilt. I'm still waiting for it to kick in.

Maybe I need more practice at pretending.

[Edit, 5.22.12] I just wanted to add that the PIK is a nice person, who I'm sure meant no harm in what he said and would probably be mortified if he knew it had bummed me out. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm still trying to figure out how to not be deflated when someone says something that perfectly plays into my insecurities, whether they meant to be hurtful or they were just making conversation and happened to hit a nerve.

It's not easy but seeing as I can't control what other people say (or think!), I hope that one day I figure it out. The only variable I can control in this situation is myself.]


  1. I literally just finished watching his commencement speech, and I loved that bit!

    You could pretend you are someone who makes their living by writing, and thus does not need any other full-time job.

    Or go really out there and just spend some time pretending that when people think you are at home on the computer, or running random errands, you are really fighting Evil, and going on a Quest that involves secret gardens, magical statues, and pathways tucked into shadows.

    That's what I do. When I'm not pretending to be someone who knows how to finish a story and get it out to agents and publishers.

  2. "You could pretend you are someone who makes their living by writing, and thus does not need any other full-time job."

    Sabrina, yes. Of course. Why didn't this occur to me?? Thanks for the reminder!