“Oh, give me a home where the Buffalo roam
Where the Deer and the Antelope play;
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the sky is not cloudy all day.”
Home on the Range
Where oh where is this wonderful place where “seldom is heard a discouraging word”? Beam me up, Scotty!
It seems only fitting that a post on “Encouraging Words,” should be followed by this one. While supportive words are often in short supply, sadly, there’s no shortage of downbeat dialogue around. It’s everywhere!
“To deprive of courage or confidence – dishearten” — that’s the Webster’s definition of discouragement. The word “dishearten” says it all. Discouraging words can make us lose heart — and when that happens, then nothing happens.
As writers working to hone our craft and make our marks, we often battle discouragement on several fronts. On the publishing front, there’s plenty of dispiriting news about the book business and declining readership. On the agent front, we’ve all heard about how hard it is and the odds we face.
In the family-and-friends arena, support for our writing projects can ebb and flow. When Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help (see Give In) began racking up rejections left and right, she started lying about continuing to work on her “book” because the people around her couldn’t understand why she didn’t just give it up. Writing is hard work and getting your writing right is even harder. Instead of giving us credit for our persistence, people close to us sometimes dismiss or diminish our drive.
But the most damaging discouraging words are the ones we say to ourselves. When we hit a snag, we can be impatient with ourselves instead of patient. When agents reject us, we can reject ourselves and shove our work in a drawer instead of sticking with it like Kathryn. When we send our work out to on-line outlets and it doesn’t pay off, we can tell ourselves we don’t have what it takes instead of rolling up our sleeves and trying again.
But losing heart means giving up on our dreams. So let’s dump discouragement and treat the writer within us with respect and compassion. And write on!