I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like this has been a tough year. And even after being on my new mood stabilizers for thirteen weeks, there are still things that are simply too soul-crushing to force myself to do just yet.
Take submissions. For the last several years, I’ve had a yearly rejections goal. Instead of having submissions goals, I choose rejections goals specifically because I’m trying to trick myself into not feeling as badly about how many of those submissions come back as rejections. Sometimes it works and I don’t feel too badly about the inevitable ‘no’s that flood my inbox after sending out a bundle of submissions. Sometimes it works… less… well.
Now, I take submissions far too personally even in a good year. So in this, a double-plus ungood year, asking people to look at something I have spent years working on (basically my soul at this point) and tell me it is garbage (a.k.a. I am garbage) and, if I’m really lucky, to take the time to tell me why I am garbage (although much more likely is that I’m not even worth a form letter and will get to listen to the cavernous sound of an endlessly-waiting silence for the rest of forever), is just not a thing I can handle right now.
So yeah. Submissions were out this year. I don’t even feel guilty about it. Sometimes, you just have to prioritize your health.
Querying has always been a fraught path for those who struggle with depression, anxiety, and many other mental health issues. This isn’t the case for everyone, of course. Every now and then, someone in my Twitter feed will say something about how they just loved the querying process and it was so much fun and they miss it so much. I love these people. I love their successes. I love that they can find joy in every part of their careers. But I am not those people. Querying has always been a crucible of the soul that I have to spend a lot of time psyching myself up for and a lot of time recovering from.
Currently, I have been more or less recovering from a particularly brutal round of submissions for a little over a year. This is the longest I have ever had to go and I still don’t feel up to it. And although I’ve done a few small things here and there (tiny writing competitions, #PitMad, etc), I haven’t queried any agents for a very long time. Honestly, I’m sad about that. I’m sad that these stories I love so much will never appear anywhere but my hard drive at this rate. I’m sad that I’m so far pretty unsuccessful at my chosen field. I’m sad that my mental state is still so fragile. But I can’t force myself to be better, and I’m not going to try to. I know from experience that I will only make it worse.
So instead, I’m doing what I can. I’m enjoying getting ready for a quiet Christmas. (I love quiet so much, guys. I LOVE IT SO MUCH.) I’m checking in with friends and neighbors to make sure they’re well. I’m doing all the artsies. And I’m taking my medication religiously, even though it’s doing its job and I don’t feel like I need it so much anymore. (Seriously, don’t just stop taking your meds because you feel better. Talk to your doc.)
On the medication note, I did say that I’d check in again and let you know how it was working. As mentioned earlier, I’m a little over thirteen weeks in and it’s doing its job. It hasn’t wiped my emotions and made me a zombie like I feared it would; I still have emotions, but they’re just more manageable. I have been told that having emotions that are mostly manageable is a normal gig, but it still feels a little weird to not be strung out on my own feelings all the time. And I’m happy to report that all the side effects that plagued me at the onset (nausea, exhaustion, etc) have eased up and gone away. I feel pretty normal, which is itself a victory.
So I think I’m going to give myself a pass on the rejections goals for this year, and probably next year too. Yes, submissions are pivotal for becoming traditionally published, and yes, I will get back to it eventually. But not this year, and probably not for a while into the future. If I feel like it, I’ll send out submissions, but I’m not going to try to force it.
I hope you guys are doing well and looking forward to your winter holiday of choice! And until next week, happy (and healthy) writing!