Dianne Neal Matthews, here, looking at the snow-coated mountains around Salt Lake City. Last week I flew home after spending a couple of weeks in Illinois with my children/grandchildren. The day before I got home, the temperature had climbed into the 80s; the day after I arrived, the high was in the 40s. Talk about a mood swing.
As I watched the rain/snow mix turn into slushy snow, I was glad I had kept a few sweaters in my closet from last winter. I headed down into the basement to get warmer socks and a jacket—much easier than pulling down rickety stairs to the attic and walking on rafters as I had to do in our old house.
This drastic shift in weather made me think about the sudden, unexpected changes in the writing life. A drop in barometric pressure is nothing compared to a steep drop in our ranking on Amazon. And even if we’re surrounded by plenty of precipitation, most of us know what it’s like to go through a drought as far as writing assignments or book contracts are concerned. When someone criticizes our work or writes a scathing review, it can sure feel like we’re in the middle of a devastating storm.
How can we be prepared to weather the sudden changes that come our way in the writing life? I’m thinking it might be a good idea to have a mission statement as some writers do—a succinct statement of our calling so we can keep our focus where it should be, no matter what happens. I know it helps to keep positive feedback from readers, to pull out when we need a reminder that our writing has touched lives. But when literary storm clouds threaten, our best bet is to cover ourselves with prayer, pull on those old-fashioned galoshes of perseverance, and go out to splash in the puddles.
How do you cope with the ups and downs of the writing life?