Monday, November 12, 2012

The "Morning After": One Conference Attendee's Struggle

For an SCBWI conference attendee, the "morning after" can pack a lot of emotion.  And believe me, I felt them all during today's coffee time, reflecting back on this past weekend's NJ SCBWI Craft Weekend.

T. Lazar, J, Hedlund, me, A. Raynor and P. Nozell
at the NJ SCBWI conference in June 2012
Happiness that I have such wonderful, talented friends in my life and that we are pursuing the BEST career ever!

Sadness that I have to wait til the next conference to see some of them.

Excitement to get back to work and revise, write, repeat!

Exhaustion from the constant amazing information shared.

And even some doubt. 

Yes, doubt.

Although I try to be realistic, there is always that hope that somehow I will wow an agent and editor and become the buzz at the conference.  There is that hope that this conference will be "the one" when my career will REALLY start. 

And then on the way home, with my folder full of notes and critiques I start to doubt that I even have what it takes to do anything more than party with writers.  I want to be on those bookshelves beside them.  I want  to talk about promoting books and what my school visits have been like.

I start to doubt myself.  My writing.

Pursuing a career as a writer is a struggle.  But what does that mean, exactly?

I heard a report on NPR this morning about the differences between how the East view struggle versus how the West views struggle.  I found it very interesting.

Within this report, Jim Stigler, Professor of Psychology at UCLA states,"I think that from very early ages we [in America] see struggle as an indicator that you're just not very smart," Stigler says. "It's a sign of low ability — people who are smart don't struggle, they just naturally get it, that's our folk theory. Whereas in Asian cultures they tend to see struggle more as an opportunity."
In Eastern cultures, Stigler says, it's just assumed that struggle is a predictable part of the learning process. Everyone is expected to struggle in the process of learning, and so struggling becomes a chance to show that you, the student, have what it takes emotionally to resolve the problem by persisting through that struggle. 
To read the entire transcript or listen to the story, click here.  It really is a fascinating report.
But back to my "morning after".  My doubt.
Today I choose to embrace my struggle.  To persist.  To look for the joy in the sweat and the hardwork.  To celebrate the process.  To learn from the disappointment and doubt.
I might not be a superstar after attending my event this past weekend but I am one step closer.  One day closer. 


  1. marcie thank you so much. i am so grateful to know you, even from a little distance:) you have really inspired me. I am writing a YA that is really close to my heart and its HARD and i'm struggling, but i am doing it, everyday, step by step.

  2. What a great way to pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and start all over again. Great choice to embrace your struggle. Thank you for this post, it is a perfect reminder of how to enjoy the writer's life roller coaster instead of letting fear and self-doubt ruin all the fun and hinder the learning.

  3. Wonderful post Marcie! Watch - Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story, when you need another boost!

  4. You have said it well, Marcie. It's that whole aspiration/perspiration thing. One feels good, the other - not so much. Both are necessary for success, so keep dreaming big dreams and sweating bullets while you work to make them come true.

  5. What a great post, Marcie! Thank you for sharing. You hit the nail on the head - there certainly is a mix of all those emotions. Doubt is always a big one for me too - look around at all the amazing writers at conferences, most of them who at least look like they have a lot more self-assurance than I do even if they're pretending - and it's very easy to feel small. So you have to do exactly what you're doing - embrace the joy, the struggle, the process because it does feel great when it's going well :) And above all, persistence - no one gets anywhere if they give up. I'm sure we'll be seeing your books on the bookshelves beside all those authors you admire :)

  6. Thanks for sharing your "morning after" feelings. I am sure everyone can empathize, because we all have had the same doubts. But doubts can become our motivation. As Susanna said, persistence is the key. I'm glad you focused on this.

  7. Marcie, I've been going through my own period of doubt, so I appreciate this post. Luckily, I've had enough of these to know that it too shall pass.

    I like the idea of looking at struggle and doubt as a time of learning instead. Maybe that's when you're acquiring knowledge and getting ready for the next opportunity to come along...

  8. Marcie,
    Thank you for sharing your morning after doubts. I so understand that feeling! But I believe that you DO have what it takes & that with persistence you WILL succeed!

  9. I, too, was at the NJSCBWI conference this weekend and came home with the same mix of emotions and I say AMEN to embracing struggle and perseverance, to finding joy in the writing journey even when the road curves in ways we don't expect, to learning from disappointment and growing despite doubt and frustration. It's all part of the process... as you said so beautifully!

  10. Marcie, you are still a superstar to me. Your message about struggles is very encouraging. We've all been through it and now we can all look at it as an opportunity. And what a great bunch of people all in one room!

  11. Beautifully written. Honestly told. Thank you for the link. You are awesome, Marcie. (Also, I love the photo with the familiar faces.)

  12. As with the rest of the room, I Feel doubt all the time and wonder as you do if I have a right to party with the writers. Thanks for this post and sending the link around to Children's Hub. For me this doubt isn't just the morning after but frequently in life as I sit down to write.

    What a great way to do the one eighty and turn it around to seeing struggle as a learning opportunity. I appreciate it.

  13. Thanks for sharing. It is hard when you go to these conferences or workshops, then you come home with all this information and it can be hard to find the time to sort everything out and apply everything...