A LETTER FROM ME TO ME, ON THE DAY I ALMOST GAVE UP ON MY DESTINY(ALL YOU PEOPLE THINKING ABOUT GIVING UP ON YOUR DREAMS OUT THERE, THIS MIGHT BE YOUR STORY IF YOU DON’T. . .)

Today, this came up on Timehop as a post I had made on Facebook four years ago today.  I was struck by how much a life can change in four years. I remember the despair I felt as I wrote those five words: “What if I never publish?”
.
I had been working for decades to publish a novel, beating my head against a brick wall that never seemed to budge.  I’d done everything I knew to do to make my dream happen.  I’d gotten an MFA, graduating with distinction.  I’d submitted everything I’d written (four novels and six jillion short pieces) hundreds of times.  I’d published in newspapers, journals, anthologies, and magazines. I’d won a major contest with one of my novels, got it agented, and been rejected by every publisher in America.  Which was demoralizing, to say the least.
.
And then, in an act of epic self-sabotage I have never spoken about publicly before, and I still don’t fully understand, I had been on the verge of signing my rock-n-roll novel with a big New York agent.  He loved it and me.  Long story short, I had what therapists described as a seven-day-panic-attack, but what felt like a nervous breakdown or psychotic break to me. I had always thought of myself as someone with a powerful mind, but I had absolutely no control over what was happening to me.  In the middle of this hell, which I will write about in depth someday, I wrote the agent and fired him.  After which I realized something was very wrong, after which I went to a hospital, after which I was prescribed medication for acute panic disorder, after which I felt way better about signing with the agent, after which he wasn’t so excited about me anymore.  (I have no idea why.)
.
I’ve always been so humiliated about the acts of gross self-sabotage I committed during those seven days, I’ve never spoken about them publicly to anyone.  (Don’t worry.  Firing the agent was the worst thing.  Nothing but my career was harmed in the making of my meltdown.)
.
But I guess I’m ready to talk, because I’m betting I’m not the only girl who’s ever struggled with that kind of mental illness before.  It was the scariest thing that had ever happened to me. To know my own brain could betray me like that made me feel less safe than anything ever had.  (For reference, I’ve had psychotic men look into my eyes and say, “I love you so much, I’m going to cut your head off,” and mean it.  But psycho-boys, you got nothin’ on panic disorder.  Sorry.) And having come so close to my dream, and having sabotaged it myself, almost made me give up on my dream.  (I’ve wrestled the panic disorder into submission.  I no longer take medication, and I no longer have panic attacks.  But it took a long time to learn to control it.)
.
I thought it would take me another 20 years to get my foot back in the door.  And I wrote these words on Facebook, as a tiny glimpse into the despair I was feeling.  And I signed with the most wonderful agent in the world a few months later.  Even my wacky, mid-panic attack actions seemed to work for my good, because I still don’t know another writer who has an agent who cares so deeply and personally about her work as my agent, Andy Ross, does. At the darkest moment of my life, light was right around the corner.  I know that now.
.
I am in San Miguel de Allende as we speak, having just spoken on a panel, taught a workshop, read from my books, conducted signings, and performed in front of 1,000 people at the San Miguel Writer’s Conference.  I’m a real writer now.
.
If only the Tawni that made that hopeless post could know what I know now.  So I told her.  And I told you, because I bet tons of you writers out there are feeling the way I did that day, for different reasons.  Don’t give up.  You might be about to fly.
.
Advertisements

2 thoughts on “A LETTER FROM ME TO ME, ON THE DAY I ALMOST GAVE UP ON MY DESTINY(ALL YOU PEOPLE THINKING ABOUT GIVING UP ON YOUR DREAMS OUT THERE, THIS MIGHT BE YOUR STORY IF YOU DON’T. . .)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s