Optional Pain

I am against tattoos. No, not for you. Go on and ink your little hearts out, Writer Friends. I’m against them for me, and not just because I’m fickle about art in general. No, it’s the whole “optional pain” aspect that turns me off.

I mean, life is full of pain, right? And pain, for me, has always been a bit more… remarkable, I guess you could say, than for many others.When Dave and I were dating, he did not appreciate this fact. I vividly* remember cutting my hand with a paring knife so deeply that Actual Blood Came Out Of The Cut. It wasn’t a stitches situation or anything (Oh, Lordy, I NEVER go for stitches – see Optional Pain above), but it was an adequate amount of blood to panic over, for me. Clueless, young, unmarried Dave didn’t see it that way. He was all, “meh,” about the whole thing, until I Set Him Straight about what pain means to a deep, emotional, overly dramatic soul like mine. (We’ve been married for many years, Friends, so don’t worry. When I accidentally cut myself these days, he cries even harder than I do. And sometimes brings home flowers. Good husband.)

Anyway, life is full of pain, and my goal is to keep my daily quota of pain as low as possible. And yet, Writer Friends, and yet.

I still, every day, write pages and pages of novels that may not ever be published, poems and short stories and essays, too — and then, just when I’m feeling quite good about myself, life, and the universe in general, I send them out. Like tiny, helpless ducklings into the crocodile-infested river of the Publishing World.

And when those rejections come in – and they do, I promise, even if I don’t post about all of them here (and no, I haven’t had any this week, thank you for asking) — it hurts. Like a punch in the gut. Like sciatica. Not as much as labor (except for that one R from Scholastic over a year ago – Lordy, if they made a home epidural kit I would’ve hooked myself up THAT week fersure), but just as horrible in its own way.

Then, when I catch my breath, I straighten up, mentally bark out “Thank you, Sir, May I have another?” and hit send on another submission. After which I cry, eat much, much chocolate, and tap out another thousand words on the Next Novel in Line.

Why? Because I’ve figured one thing out: this pain isn’t really optional, for me. As far as I can tell, it’s the only way I can get to where I want to go.

What about you, Writer Friends? Are you submitting, are you writing, are you finishing those novels/stories/picture books/essays, and polishing them just enough to send them out into the world? Or are you stalling, waiting, hesitating because you know that the inevitable blow is coming?

And if you are hesitating, let me ask a personal question: Do you have a tattoo? Because that’s way more scary to me.

Write well, Friends, finish your Works, and send them out into the world.

* all memories which involve my blood coming out of my body are vivid for me. Seriously, you’re talking to a woman who still doesn’t believe she might not bleed to death every month. I mean, it’s my blood! Coming out! Without stopping! Brrrrr.

Posted in Family News, Miscellaneous on 10/21/2010 02:10 am


  1. Another Nikki Loftin post I’ll be sending to all my writer friends. “This pain isn’t really optional, for me.” Wow. Very true. In spite of the fact that I *seem* to be stalling, I did hit send for something w/in the last month. Hoorah! Matched your 3K goal yesterday, too. 🙂

    You know what? The writing “well” part does stall me sometimes. Give me a couple rejections, and I’ll assume I’ve got to write something bigger and better. I’ll fret over getting it right in the early stages instead of powering through that first draft. But, hear ye, I’ll get a tatt of a chicken if I don’t finish my WIP draft in four weeks.

    P.S. I don’t have any tattoos, but there are way scarier “optional pain” inducing things one can do to one’s body, aren’t there?


    • Nikki Loftin

      Lori – yay for hitting send! And for matching 3K (I only hit 1K yesterday – work. Ugh) I feel you on the “bigger and better” thing. But I think that’s a lie we tell ourselves to avoid more pain. Maybe, anyway.


  2. Wonderful post, Nikki. We cannot go around this pain, we have to go through it; it’s the only way to reach our goal. I only managed 2K yesterday, I’ll try for 3K today. And no tattoos for me, either. It’s not so much about how the art will hold up, but the canvas.


  3. Great post, Nikki. I’m in the middle of the duckling-ejecting process, and thanks for the video reminder of what’s happening to my baby out there. But I am, actually, thinking about getting a tattoo. Vonna, you nailed it with your comment. It’s all about the canvas. That’s why I think it should be the older crowd, not the younger, to get tattoos. A: We know so much more about what message we’re willing to stand by for the long haul. And B: We’ve got a pretty good idea where the canvas is still looking pretty good.


  4. Nikki, that is REAL video! And those people are laughing! I hope someone holds them all down and tattoes their retinas (or blows on their eyeballs until they dry out – HaHaHa!).

    This pain is definitely not optional. But it builds character — literally! *insert cymbal clash here* Ugh.

    Slogging through the mandatory pain for another day…


    • Nikki Loftin

      I know, Shelli, it is evil. But there were worse ones that I didn’t choose. Grrr. BTW, that blowing on the eyeballs thing is patented, by ME. So don’t go around using that on any little kids or anything. I’ll sue.
      Also, puns? Are you feeling well? LOL


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