The Spiral

There's a quote from the movie "High Fidelity," which I'm told is also in the book by Nick Hornby (I've never read it, so I'm not sure) that goes: "Do I listen to pop music because I'm miserable, or am I miserable because I listen to pop music?"

Today, I thought to myself "Do I write because I'm crazy, or am I crazy because I write?"

I should point out that the above quote is meant to be cute.  I point that out because I generally hate it when people call themselves crazy.  It seems like a popular thing to do these days.  "Oh, I'm just crazy like that."  I think it does a disservice to the word.  If you're actually crazy you wouldn't really be aware of it, or at least you wouldn't talk about it.  But I suppose the idea of losing your mind is so frightening to me that joking about, at least regularly, kind of weirds me out.

Anyway, this was all precipitated by these three events:

1) I did not win the Independent Literary Award for Biography/Memoir.  I lost to "Little Princes," which I actually expected, as the book sounds like it's great.  Losing runner-up to the Tiger Mom wasn't as easy to take, but I'm basing that upon what I've heard about the book, so I suppose that's not entirely fair.

2) One of the judges posted her review on her blog, and it wasn't particularly positive.  She gave it 2.75/5.  It was a perfectly fine review, to be honest, as she raised legitimate points about the book, things that were ultimately a matter of opinion (unlike certain other reviews I've gotten).  Still, a bad review is a bad review, and I get so few reviews that the bad ones always hit me pretty hard.

3) I finally looked and learned that the next round of cuts in the Amazon/Penguin book contest will be announced tomorrow.  The first round cut the group of nearly 5,000 to just 1,000.  The next cut will drop that number down to 250.

It seems to me that good things and bad things tend to happen in clumps.  The day I was told that I'd been nominated for the Indie Lit Awards was the same day that I got the release date for the book on Joss Whedon that features an essay that I wrote.  A few years ago, I had two agents reading my first novel; I got rejection letters from both of them literally within the same hour.

As you can imagine, I'm not particularly optimistic about what I'm going to learn tomorrow.

Here's the thing: I can spiral downward with the best of them.  I'm a neurotic person and I spent a large part of my life being sad and angry, so it's very easy for me to fall back into that.  Yet here I am, sending out my stories to the world, even thought I know rejection will kill me every single time.

It seems, well, crazy that I would pursue a profession in which the rate of failure is so incredibly high, given how drastic my mood swings can be.

But am I like this because I write, or do I write because I'm like this?

So I'm preparing to spiral tomorrow.  I've warned my wife.  Tomorrow I'll be at work which, while actually perfectly fine as far as jobs go, is still a constant reminder that I'm not writing for a living.  And, you know, even that is kind of hard to handle at a certain point.

I'm just going to have to hold out hope that there's some karma yet to come to me, and that even if these bad things happen  in succession, I'll get a few good things to even them out.  I don't really have any reason to believe that, but it would be impossible to keep going otherwise.

Honestly, there's more to it than what I've written, but I think I've rambled on enough for now. 

Besides, I need to try to get some writing done.