Today I wanted to talk about something many artists–no matter what kind of art they practice–struggle with: lows.
We have them sometimes as often as we have “highs.” When I say “highs” I am talking about those moments where you feel on top of the world, like you’ve accomplished everything you’ve ever dreamed of, and when I talk about “lows” I am talking about those moments that often follow our “highs.”
For me, the lows that follow highs are the hardest, not because they are emotional but because they are difficult to understand. The day before, filled with a high, you feel confident and beyond excited. It’s almost paralyzing when a low hits you the next morning. I wanted to talk about the one that I struggle with the most in the hopes of helping other writers (or artists) understand they aren’t alone or strange to be confused about these highs and lows as I have felt before.
My hardest lows happen when I finish a book.
As many of you know, I finished Seconds Before Sunrise recently. Granted, I “finished” writing it in high school, but the finalized version is MUCH different than the original, not because my publisher has asked me to change it, but because I decided to change a lot. I’ve grown up a lot since I first wrote it, I’ve learned a lot about writing, so I practically rewrote the entire trilogy when it was signed with AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. Therefore, I’m still experiencing the “high” of finishing it, followed by the “low” the day after.
The low comes from the realization that the novel is over. The creating is done. The adventure has settled, and it’s ready to be shared, but I’m no longer traveling within words, and it takes me a while to get into another novel afterwards, because it’s hard for me to let go of my previous work.
So what do I do to cope with it?
Previously, I’ve talked about going back, reflecting on my childhood or another time where my love for writing was a little more pure, naive to the changes that must be made when an artist grows into another stage of being an artist. And it helps. This is why I decided I wanted to share the piece of me that got me out of my recent “low.”
I was 14 when this photo was taken, which, roughly speaking, is when I started writing Seconds Before Sunrise. (Remember, I wrote Seconds Before Sunrise before Minutes Before Sunset.) I had yet to publish November Snow, and I was still dreaming of the day I could hold my published works in my hands. Perhaps this is why I held onto a “Personal Profile” my freshman English teacher had us fill out on my first day of high school so she could get to know us better. Below are the two answers that brought my author love out of that low: (excuse my handwriting; it hasn’t been right since I broke my left hand and had to switch to my right hand)
When I read further, I was asked what my greatest goal was, and I said “to publish a book.” The perfect gift for me would be “a Barnes & Noble gift card” and when I get older, I wanted to be “an author.” I also said my favorite quote was “An ambition is a dream with a V8 engine” said by my favorite singer, Elvis Presley. I realized my dream was my focus in this questionnaire that I’m sure no one expected me to keep as one of the most important documents I have today.
I talked about my dreams, and, at the time, I kept it to remind myself of my goals. Since this was August 18, 2005, I was completely oblivious that November Snow would be published two years later or that Minutes Before Sunset would be published in 2013.
Today, this paper still reminds me of my goals, which I think is beautiful thing. In a sense, my 14-year-old self can still cheer me on. Even more important, I am reminded that I can cheer myself on by believing in everything I’ve done throughout the years. I may have been scribbling down answers as fast as I could (because who likes to spend hours on homework) but I still knew what I desired most: to live my life pursuing what I love most–writing–and I did.
As I continue to follow this dream, I have added more goals to my writer’s dream. Back then, all I wanted was my published book in my hands. Today, I want to help other aspiring writers achieve the same dream, and I also want to encourage other people to follow their dreams, no matter what it is. I want to challenge archetypes and stereotypes in literature. I want to depicts characters young adults today can relate to, learn from, and grow with. And I’m doing this by having the goal of challenging myself. In order to do this, I have to believe in myself, even in my lows, and I do, which is something much easier to write than to actually do. But, nevertheless, I know I’m not alone in this and no artist is alone in this.
We’re going to have days we’re on top of the world, and we’re going to have nights where we’re not sure if we should continue pursuing our dreams the next morning. But we get up anyway, because we know we can’t stop, because we can’t stop passion. We can’t stop a dream.
The point of this post has became less about my “lows” as an author and more about how we can stay in that “high” by reminding ourselves of what matters: happiness. And I hope this helps others find a place where happiness already resides: in our dreaming hearts.