I can’t go anywhere without someone either telling me or implying how difficult 2016 was. I see it on Twitter and I’ve been hearing it time and time again from my own clients. A lot of people are struggling to shake off a year that made them feel, well, a lot of things. Betrayed, frightened, upset and, I guess, generally overwhelmed. Overwhelmed is the best I can do since the list of feelings suddenly got too great, and yet not enough.
No matter how you feel about 2016, we are all required to move on. My clients are still expecting me to review and negotiate their contracts, to give them feedback on their proposals and to push their publishers for something more. I get it. I’m working on it. I’m getting things done.
The struggle to move on and “get things done” is so much greater for those in a creative field. Those who are required to tap into emotions and feelings in order to do the job, a job that doesn’t always have the menial or mindless tasks I can count on when I’m feeling overwhelmed. It’s the greatest challenge an author will face and you will all face it, whatever your feelings about 2016, life is guaranteed to throw you a curveball and you’ll be forced to fight through it.
Even though life (and the world) might feel like its falling apart, it is still going on. Publication dates are still scheduled, deadlines must still be met and an entire team is still counting on you–your editor, your agent, the sales force, the Barnes and Noble buyer and, of course, your readers. The great irony of being a writer in difficult times is that you are forced to put aside your feelings just to give your readers the ability to put aside theirs. Who doesn’t turn to a book when you need to hide from the world?
I wish I could end this with some great eye-opening advice on how to keep plodding through when you already feel too drained to even get to the computer. I don’t. I can tell you to keep writing. I can tell you to focus on other writing. I bet you already know that and I bet you’re already doing that.
I can tell you what I do and that’s look at the big picture. I’m lucky that I can always say “it could always be worse” and to me it’s not a platitude. It’s truth. There are so many in this world suffering so great. Sure I can imagine worse, I have an imagination too (and a good one), but why bother. Where is that going to get me? Instead I take time out to think of the great in my life. 2016 wasn’t all bad. I signed more than a few clients to incredible, career-altering deals. Books publishing in 2017 that I’m extremely excited for and proud of. We welcomed a new agent to BookEnds and my team continues to grow and thrive. More importantly, I see a group that’s coming together to support each other and help each other grow to truly become a force in publishing. I see a world where people are uniting to fight for the rights of others as well as themselves. I see that while some divide, many unite.
There is good in every bad and we have a choice. We can wallow in what we hate or we can fight for and relish what we love. To me, the most powerful act of rebellion is to continue on in a bigger, better and stronger way.
Being creative in tough times is hard, but it’s not impossible. In fact, I see some who have been able to not just push past the difficult times, but excel and use them to empower. Whatever gets you through will be personal and for some right now it might seem impossible. But it’s not. Nothing is.