Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Newbery/Dinglebery Syndrome

A cleverer writer coined this wonderful expression of artistic bipolar mood disorder. It struck me as an apt description of what every creative person in a competitive field goes through:
The Newbery/Dinglebery Syndrome.


Readers of fiction in English know The Newbery. It’s the Oscars of kid-lit, the Pulitzer of books for pre-teens. There’s only one Newbery medal awarded, but as many as eight Newbery honor books each year. They represent exquisite literary accomplishment in children’s books.

Haven't heard of The Dinglebery? There’s a reason for that.



In the process of writing, revising, and submitting to agents or publishers, most every writer goes through an astonishing rollercoaster of feeling their work is so very good it amazes even them, and that it is so worthless even the trash-bin would not accept it for disposal. All in one week.

Some of it is external. Got a rejection? Another one? Must not be half as good at this as I imagine, I mean one-tenth as good… who am I kidding. Not one-hundredth as good.

Got a request for a partial? This is a busy uber-editor/agent and they don’t ask unless the premise stands out. A request for the full manuscript? Nobody asks for those unless the premise shines and the partial sparkles. I must be good at what I do. Got a YES to the whole thing? The Newbery Medal is calling.

Some of this rollercoaster ride is internal. Staring at a blank page and there is nothing in my head? Staring at a pivotal chapter in need of writing and there’s nothing coming? Having written said chapter, and every word feels wrong? Ding-ding-Dinglebery.

Having a day where the words flow out and things get written by a seemingly invisible hand with cadence worthy of Mozart? Zingers are pouring out worthy of Groucho Marx? Insights that are deep and entertaining  at once,  reminiscent of Twain? I’m in Newbery territory here.

I've been there, in both places and a few in between. It is part of the course. It’s just the way it goes. In truth most of our work falls somewhere between a Newbery and a Dinglebery, but the process is much more like these extremes.


Don't let anyone tell you to never doubt yourself and always believe in your work. It’s not possible, and not that healthy, either. But don't let them tell you to give up, either.


P.S.
Having a Newbery week, and wishing the same to you~

14 comments:

  1. Love the idea of having a Newbery week - sort of an inside joke for kids' writers:) And, of course, giving up isn't even an option.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, I can relate. One doesn't have to be a writer of children's or pre-teen literature to empathize. The rollercoaster of feelings is part and parcel of the creative process, whatever medium or genre one is working in.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I believe today was a Dingleberry day. I need me some of that thar Newberry stuff (said in a horrible Southern accent).

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yay for your Newbery week! That makes me happy.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've been having more Newbery days than Dinglebery ones with my current WIP. Let's hope that stays true through revisions (and the dreaded submission process).

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm glad you're having a Newbery week!!! Alas, I'm having a wannabe writer sort-of a week and next week promises to be the same so I cannot even aspire for the dingleberry.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This fits so well with my embarrassing video I'm sharing tomorrow! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  8. LOVE this post. I'm having a Newbery day today. I hope it turns into a Newbery week. I've had a few too many Dinglebery's lately. Thanks for making both kinds of days feel fun.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Love this, Mirka. As you know, I've started my novel, just finished Act 1, and both my kids love it so far. (they are my guinea pigs for what works) So I'm having a Newbery week; however, I know my writing is at the Dinglebery level! But I can dream, eh?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mirka :) this makes me smile, and I am happy everyone is having a Newbery week. I am happy to join you and it is only three days until Spring break.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Love this! I feel like I'm stuck in Dingleberry mode with my revision, but I'm determined to edge it back toward Newbery territory soon!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Dinglebery, I like it. Good to know there's a word for the opposite of Newbery. I hope your Newbery stage continues throughout your WIP.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nice. I hope your Newberry week turns into a Newberry months.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm in the Dingleberry stage of my new book. Haha, I'll remember this post!

    ReplyDelete