As I read reviews of kids’ books online, or see them in bookstores, often my first thought is “I could have written that! And done a better job!” My second thought, of course, is “Well, why didn’t you?” This brings me to a word with which I have become very familiar. Resistance. According to Steven Pressfield in his wonderful book, The War of Art, “Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt.” He says it is a negative repelling force that keeps us away from doing what we know we have to do. Yes, I do have three picture books written with Ellen Rothberg that are out and in kids’ hands. That makes me immensely happy. But is it enough?
I am sure resistance works differently for different people. Unfortunately, lately resistance has become a close, if not a constant, friend of mine. Understand that I normally follow through on all my obligations, get things done for other people, and do my assigned jobs. However, when it comes to completing things that only affect me, resistance rears its ugly head and shadows my every movement. Freud anyone?
Is resistance just a bunch of excuses? I should have realized long ago that I am prone to resistance. When everyone was so psyched about Nike’s “Just Do It” ads, I bought some clothes with the iconic swish and felt part of the trend. However, you would not find me out on the track really doing it. I’d always find an excuse. Recently, I’ve let resistance into my life by constantly prioritizing and re-prioritizing. I know I will get to that manuscript revision, but honestly, don’t I have to go to the grocery store first? I am excited about a new picture book idea, but I need to go work out before I get started. This morning, I sat down to story board some ideas I have, but I found myself checking Facebook. What if I miss someone’s birthday? And don’t we all need to see pictures of puppies before we start our day? They really do make me smile. Prioritizing or procrastinating? Pressfield says procrastination is the most common manifestation of resistance. Yep, as far as my writing, I have been falling prey to this. Am I just trying to avoid rejection? Possibly, but I don’t think it’s that simple.
Right now, I am very excited about several upcoming school author visits, but am I using the excuse of dealing with the three books and everything else in my life to avoid pushing on? I had to think about my priorities and decide if writing more books is important enough for me to put in all the work and still face likely rejection. It took a while, but I decided it is. Knowing what I want to do doesn’t necessarily make it easier, but it’s a start.
The fact that I have been procrastinating about writing this blog post, and now it’s finally done gives me some hope. Yes, I will change my priorities so that the specter of resistance will not always hover over me. As I write this, I am beginning to feel empowered and focused. I will put one story in the mail by next week, I will finish the picture book first draft, and I will add more to the chapter book I am doing with Ellen R.
But first I need to check my email. Sigh……