Can you ever just be whelmed?
I recently watched 10 Things I Hate About You for the 9000th time. Remember that scene where Bianca says, "I know you can be overwhelmed, and I know you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?" I am definitely overwhelmed. So overwhelmed that I wouldn't recognize whelmed if it was standing right in front of me, calmly sipping herbal tea (whelmed doesn't need caffeine, duh).
I feel like the person in the above picture, walking through a giant, beautiful forest full of things that are a hundred times bigger and a hundred years older than she is.
This is what it's like to be a writer trying to get published for the first time. All around you, there are people with four or ten or fifty books already out in the world. There are authors whose titles number in the hundreds, and I'm over here waving like, "Hi, want to read my book?"
Let it be known, I love this. I really do. I wouldn't trade places with anyone because I don't want another author's life story. I only want my own, even with all its struggles and frustration and rejection.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Trying to get published is like trying to find a spouse. There's a lot of false starts and failed connections, a lot of almosts, a lot of nights staring at the ceiling wondering when it'll come together, a lot of encouraging words from friends and family that you pretend don't matter when they really do -- and a lot of it's not you, it's me.
Have you ever seen a movie that people have raved about and thought, "Meh"? Or heard a song that's been #1 on the singles chart for weeks that you find annoying rather than catchy? The same holds true of books. A good book is not all things to all people, and an agent or editor might even love your book, but just know they can't sell it, and therefore they have to say no.
I won't talk much on my blog about what's currently happening with my novel, but since I've been through the agent querying process and come out on the other side (glory hallelujah) with a wonderful agent, I will say that it didn't come easy. I sometimes got multiple rejections in a day. I was also sending out a lot of short stories at the time, so the rejection just got piled on top of other rejection in a nice big rejection sandwich.
And you know what? Now that I'm on the other side of it, it feels like it only lasted a few weeks rather than a whole year. It feels like my agent was just around the corner the whole time, and I was just patiently waiting.
The same is true of my husband. When I was single and longing to be with someone, it felt like a freaking eternity. Especially if I was going through a bad breakup. I felt forever alone. Now, though, I wouldn't trade all the crap I went through that led up to meeting him, and most of what I remember about being single is happy stuff, not all the mind-numbing awfulness of waiting for texts that didn't come or seeing an ex with a new girl.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, time is a funny thing. I write a lot about time and perspective in my fiction, and on this blog as well. It's interesting to me how an event in your life that is so clear when it's happening looks so very different a few months or years down the road.
So yes, right now, I'm overwhelmed. I'm busy at work, busy putting together a second novel, and busy taking online courses to learn about building my author platform and about the science behind wrongful convictions.
But to be honest, I think I would be bored just being "whelmed". Overwhelmed seems to work for me, as long as I occasionally take a break to cook a good meal or watch That 70s Show on Netflix yet again.
What do you do when you start to get overwhelmed?