It’s Bookmarkable Friday Saturday!

As someone who does creative work, how do you handle inevitable periods of dejection?

  • Write your way through it?
  • Ignore it until it goes away?
  • Re-visit your goals?
  • Focus on gratitude?
  • Sit with the feeling in a mindful way?
  • Take some planned time off (different from giving up in exasperation)?
  • Seek advice or encouragement from a writing buddy or group?

While all of the above strategies have worked for me at one time or another, for this week’s Bookmarkable suggestion, I want to share just one link that is, in my opinion, the best Dejection Plan ever: Literary Citizenship, a guest post by Cathy Day for Rebecca Rasmussen’s blog, The Bird Sisters.

photo of book mosaicCathy is a creative writing teacher and author of Comeback Season (Free Press 2008) and The Circus in Winter (Harcourt 2004). She writes:

“Lately, I’ve started thinking that maybe the reason I teach creative writing isn’t just to create writers, but also to create a populace that cares about reading. There are many ways to lead a literary life, and I try to show my students simple ways that they can practice what I call ‘literary citizenship.’ I wish more aspiring writers would contribute to, not just expect things from, that world they want so much to be a part of.” Read More

Her post brought me back to a childhood spent reading and writing, the thrill of the weekly Bookmobile visits at my two-room grade school, the first high school teacher who introduced a naive farm girl to the worlds of Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner, my decision to go to college (as a first-generation college graduate, not a small moment in my life), my choice to major in English and do graduate work in literary studies, actually getting paid to talk about ideas and books and writing with young adults, my good fortune to be married to a husband who has read Pride and Prejudice over twenty times and to have a son whose favorite family outing is to go to book stores and libraries, and, through it all, a compulsion to write as a way to be a part of the world, even when the words are for my eyes only.

Cathy Day’s purpose wasn’t to buoy dejected writers, but her words gave me something I hadn’t even known I’d needed: a reminder that I love being part of a literary world, and that reading, writing, breathing, living a life of words is part of what makes my life meaningful. This big picture quickly expands my vision and puts in perspective any momentary lapses in confidence or doubts about my own writing. In the end, it’s just all part of something bigger, a community independent of geography.

Cathy and Rebecca, thank you.

“Learn your craft, yes. But also, work to create a world in which literature can thrive and is valued.” ~ Cathy Day