Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Serenity Now!

Happy Gilmore sometimes lacks patience and self-control. When he gets frustrated he punches out game show hosts, throws clubs and attacks alligators but when he needs to focus on an important task like making a winning put, he thinks of his “happy place.” He envisions little people riding stick horses. He lounges on a hammock while his grandmother wins oodles of money at the slot machines. His “happy place” calms him down and helps him focus by regaining a proper perspective about what he wants most.

George Castanza attempted a similar retreat into the happiness of his mind by meditating and calmly saying “serenity now” when he felt distress. He was not quite as successful as Happy. Pity.

As a writer I sometimes feel frustration and perhaps even distress from time to time. Usually, these moments occur as I struggle to remain patient. I have been learning to be more patient with myself as I write and edit, and re-edit and re-edit. Patience is also required during the weeks and even months of waiting during the query process. Then, once the manuscript is accepted it is more waiting, often for a year or longer until the book is released. Although these long, painful delays are a natural part of the writing and publishing process I must remind myself that patience is a necessary attribute for any writer.

The other night we had 2 kids playing in 3 baseball/softball games. My son’s team ended up losing 18-3 but mercifully the game ended early. I watched error after error. I felt like yanking my brain out of my head by the roots of my hair, but instead I sat back, took a deep breath and muttered “serenity now.”

Next I headed over to my daughter’s softball games. This is her first year of softball and the pitchers consistently walk batter after batter, usually allowing the maximum of 6 runs each inning, nearly all runs scored by walks. UGH! Seriously. “SERENITY NOW!”

While I am very proud of my nine year old scoring four times on walks, three hours of watching a double-header gave me a bit of a headache. At moments I sat back and closed my eyes and imagined my “happy place.” I imagined a place where the pitches don’t roll over the plate and the batters occasionally swing. Then I thought of Peanut Butter M&M’s. Mmmm. Then I thought about a plot point in my WIP I’ve been stuck on for a couple of weeks. Then I thought about my hopes for my next release and dreamt about pie in the sky scenarios for wild success. Ahh…”serenity now.”

After calming down I regained perspective on what matters most. I watched and cheered with every new walk and I went crazy every time someone swung the bat. I remembered how thankful I am for my family and the blessing it is to sit in the sun and watch my kids have fun. I reminded myself that proper perspective and patience is critical in every aspect of life. Writing is no different.

Remember, when the agent or publisher has been holding onto your manuscript for three months and you haven’t heard a word from them, “serenity now.” It’s going to be okay. Be patient, go to your “happy place” and keep busy writing on your next WIP. Life is good so don’t stress the wait. "Serenity Now!"


Mary L Walling said...

"Happy Place: works for everything. I use it all the time. Thanks for the reminder in using it.

JoAnn Arnold said...

I think your words put everything in prospective. Thank you.

Steve Westover said...

Thanks Mary and JoAnn.