This week I have a rare treat. Writer Ksenia Anske has agreed to write a guest blog post for my website and talk about overcoming adversity. Without further ado, here's what she has to say.
The only adversity you ever need to overcome is in your head. Sure, there is plenty of adversity in your daily life. Something always goes wrong and not to your liking. Some of that stuff is minor, like spilled coffee; some major, like a burned down house; some deliberately hurtful, like online trolling and pointless negative book reviews and lots of other things that tend to bombard any self-published author venturing into the wild lands of the Internets. It's easy to get caught up in your own victimhood and self-pity and the sense of injustice when dealing with adversity, minor or major or in-between. That's the thing about it, though. Unless a psycho is pressing a knife to your throat, most adversity exists in the non-reality that you create and perceive as real. The rest of the adversity, like said psycho with the said knife, would require real fighting and would be better addressed elsewhere. I'm assuming you read this because one way or another you hope my words will give you some secret recipe on how to battle all that negative stuff that slanders and condemns and punishes and destroys your creativity, and that you wish you knew how to deal with. The truth is, I don't. I don't know. I know as much as you do and I try things and see what works and what doesn't and keep trying things and some days I feel great and others I feel awful. I did learn something while doing it for the last 3 years that I've been writing and self-publishing. I learned that before I can attempt to wrestle with what I perceive as treacherous pitfalls, like poor book sales and the like, first I need to wrestle with the concepts in my own head.
What exactly is adversity? Let’s look at the etymology. Adversity, c. 1200, aduersite "misfortune, hardship, difficulty," from Old French aversité "adversity, calamity, misfortune; hostility, wickedness, malice" (Modern French adversité), from Latin adversitatem (nominative adversitas) "opposition," from adversus. Merriam-Webster says that adversity is a difficult situation or condition, misfortune or tragedy.
So it's something that opposes you, that destroys your dreams, your desires, your will to write, your inspiration. That is not necessarily something bad. I look at it as a source of writing material. Time and time again I have tweeted and posted on my blog and elsewhere the same words: "Nothing can spoil my mood. I'm a writer. I can turn any shit into story." Or something along these lines. Shit happens. Shit happens all the time. You have a choice to let it crush you or use it to your advantage. Make a story out of it and flip that adversity your middle finger. Say, "More, please. This is terrific material.”
I think of adversity as someone or something trying to suffocate me. They can't, because writing lets me breathe. No matter how poor I am, I can always find a corner to sit in and a scrap of paper and a pencil to scribble away. You can't take that away from me. And if you will, I'll get more paper and more pencils. They're dirt cheap and someone is bound to give them to me for free. So what adversity are we talking about here? Hardly any of it is real.
However, words hurt. Now that we have the Internet where anyone can be anything, this power gets abused in more ways than I can list here, and writers are often the target. We speak up, and we get punished for this, especially those of us who don't fit the mold of the ones permitted to speak up in our society as it stand now, like women and people of color and queer folk and lots of others. So what do you do when you're attacked for your gender or skin color or race or belief? You stick together. Because you can't overcome this type of adversity alone. The established rules of societal games we still play are too old and too strong for you to break alone. The beauty of the Internet is the other side of its ugliness. Suddenly writers, the recluses who'd rather communicate via written word and never leave the house can connect and share their pains and give each other support. Like what I'm doing here. Sharing what I've learned, hoping it would help you share it in return.
There are 3 types of adversity as I see them. Number 1, the adversity that isn't really real and that you can kill by making it into art. Number 2, the adversity that you can't fight alone but no longer have to endure alone as help is only a click away. And, number 3, the adversity that we wish we'd never have to deal with in real life. Like the psycho with the knife. I have imagined this scenario more than once and every time I imagine acting brave and wheedling my way out. In reality I will probably pee my pants and die from fright before I get killed. I can only hope that this never happens to me to test this theory. I hope it never happens to you either.
Shall we end on this cheerful note? You've got your head and your paper and pencils, and I've got mine. Let's never stop writing, no matter what. That will make the adversity green in the face. Remember, the best weapon you have against those who wish you ill is being happy without them. I wish I said that. I didn't. The credit goes to Joyce Carol Oates who is much wiser than me and has seen more adversity in her life than I could ever imagine. This is how it goes: “The best revenge is living well without you.” Happy writing!
Ksenia was born in Moscow, Russia, and came to US in 1998 not knowing English, having studied architecture, and not dreaming that one day she'd be writing. She lives in Seattle with her partner and their combined three kids in a house that they like to call The Loony Bin.
Before quitting her career in 2012 to write full-time, an entrepreneur and social media marketer by trade, Ksenia helped clients establish social media presence as a consultant and ran her start-up Lilipip for 5 years, a company that created animated explanation videos. Ksenia's been named one of the 100 Top Women in Seattle Tech and Geek of the Week of Seattle PI.