DEAR BOOK BIZ SANTA,
The holiday season can be a beautiful, joyous period of renewal and connection. It can also reinforce feelings of loneliness and inadequacy in sensitive, vulnerable people. This includes everyone, but writers tend to struggle in particular ways. Those lucky few of us who can support ourselves through writing spend our working hours in isolation, which can feel burdensome when one is surrounded by images of congenial merrymaking. For those who toil at unrewarding day jobs to pay the bills, the bills tend to mount at this time of year, forcing increased hours that push writing time to the bottom of the list.
In addition, writers are readers. No matter that we turned to more cynical material as we matured, most of us were nourished on A Christmas Carol, Cricket on the Hearth, A Child's Christmas in Wales, A Christmas Memory, A Visit from Saint Nicholas, and so on, and our own celebrations and connections can't help but come up short.
This was hard enough when publishing was working. This year, I have heard uncountable horror stories from clients and friends about being shunned by formerly supportive agents and editors, being neglected by publicity departments, and being stabbed in the back by colleagues turned "frenemy" as the perceived pie shrinks.
Obviously, if you could turn the economy around we would all be grateful. Lacking that, here is my request: Please deliver the following message to every discouraged writer on your list.
It isn't you. We are all in it together. We will weather this. Keep writing, keep reading, keep digging for the truth and expressing it as only you can. The world needs you now more than ever.
Susan O'Doherty, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist with a New York City-based practice. A fiction writer herself, she specializes in issues affecting writers and other creative artists. She is the author of Getting Unstuck without Coming Unglued: A Woman's Guide to Unblocking Creativity (Seal, 2007). Her Career Coach column appears every Monday on Inside Higher Ed's Mama, Ph.D. blog, and she is a regular guest panelist on Litopia After Dark. She can be reached at Dr.Sue at mindspring dot com.