Spotlight on Writing
Balancing the optimist and pessimist inside isn't always easy. Picture of Sarah, half picture in color, half in black and white

Writing a book is like trying to piece together two different sides of yourself: The optimist and the pessimist. The optimist is the side that does the writing, the side who tells you to keep going with every rejection letter (or lack of response). The side that is encouraging and kind. The pessimist is the side that does the editing. It nags. It tells you the book isn’t good enough. You need to fix this bit, and that bit, and for God’s sake, why don’t you just fix the whole damn thing?

I’ve been editing for quite a while now, and to be honest, I’m a bit fed up with the pessimist. I’m flat on energy right now. And frankly, that’s not surprising considering I’ve been trying to look after my husband who just had surgery, keep up with my studies, and (of course) continue my edits every evening.

So, I’ve been trying to be kind to myself these last two weeks. I have still been working on editing The Price of Pandemonium, but I’m taking it slow. Giving myself the break which I so desperately need. The pessimist is useful in pointing out weak points in the book, but I need the optimist to show me the light, too, and to comment on the pieces that are genuinely great writing.

Slowly, I’m finding ways to mediate between the two warring sides. They’ve both got to be heard. If you listen to the pessimist too much, you get down, like I have. You lose motivation. If you listen to the optimist too much, your writing becomes stagnant, and doesn’t improve. These two colleagues, the optimist and the pessimist, they don’t get along. But with some strong leadership, they can produce some really great stuff.

Personal Update

In our house, life has been pretty quiet. As I said, my husband, Dan, is recovering from surgery, so much of the last two weeks was taken up with driving back and forth from the hospital, and then, assisting Dan in getting comfortable at home. Things are slowly returning to normal, but for us, we haven’t planned any summer vacations.

Honestly, I have been a bit bummed by this. Obviously it’s not his fault, but it was our first anniversary the day after he got back from hospital, and it wasn’t the easiest day for either of us. He was sore, I was crabby from lack of sleep and stress. And while I appreciated everyone’s congratulations, the unwitting people who asked me ‘if we had anything special planned’ were met with strong sarcasm.

But you know, that’s the way life goes. We just have to keep looking forward, learning from every low point and appreciating the things we have. I’m thankful that Dan made it through the surgery, and that he’s doing really well. And I’m so lucky to keep creating, lucky to have someone like Ashley who is as enthusiastic about our work as I am, and willing to put in the hard yards. And though my Canadian nursing registration still seems so far away, all I can do is take things one step at a time, and remind myself that every shred of knowledge helps me to become a better nurse.