Do you ever feel like you’re holding your breath waiting for life to slow down or maybe speed up. And then… THEN… THEN!!!! You’ll have your stuff together and be able to accomplish XYZ.
No? Okay. Maybe it’s just me.
But let’s settle there for minute and talk about being present in our writing lives. WHAT? Yes, being present in your own life.
So its near year’s end and you sit down over a glass o’ vino and mull over that list of things you wanted to get done this year. Or if you’re like me, you try to avoid thinking of said list and instead find your fingers in your ears shouting LA LA LA LA to avoid thinking about all the things you WISHED you’d done this year. Okay, again maybe it’s just me.
Whether it’s the nostalgic NYE commercials or posts on Facebook about everyone kicking ass on their this-year-to-do-list and looking forward to the glitter that is sure to be 2019, inevitably we end up considering — WHAT DID I DO THIS YEAR? And if you’re anything like me, that question might prompt some major self-rejecting and disappointment.
LISTEN, I get you. But what if… WHAT IF (I’m yelling so you’ll listen!)…. there’s more to it than that? What if the source all that stomach sloshing when you think back on this year has nothing to do with NOT GETTING THAT AGENT or NOT CLOSING THAT BOOK DEAL or whatever’s at the top of your Unicorn Wish List. What if, the fix to that stomach sloshing is Pepto… sorry, projecting. I meant, what if it’s a simple paradigm shift?
I had an epiphany the other night.
I have a habit of overloading my schedule and making crazy high dreams and then hurling myself at cheetah speed toward them. That might sound inspiring, even glamorous, but understand that cheetah is charging through a china shop. When I’m working myself to death toward a crazy goal things get pushed aside — IMPORTANT THINGS.
My littles get less time with me. My spouse has days where he’s questioning his status as partner or roommate. (poor guy! lol) My non-writing friends wonder if I’ve actually died. My eating habits suck. My exercise routine changes. I’m racing through life chasing a carrot because THAT is my everything. In that season, THAT is my dream. I’m blustering past the tiny moments that make up each day and with that– the little successes along the way.
I’ll repeat that.
I’m blustering past the tiny moments that make up each day and with it — the little successes along the way.
And guys, as a writer, the little successes are E V E R Y T H I N G.
These are the moments that get you from point A to point B. Or better yet failure A to failure B. I cringe even typing that word. But rejections suck. I have MUCH to be grateful for this year, but hear me, the first story I queried this year piled up rejections. And they stung. Those moments I don’t forget. I can remember where I was standing when I got my first rejection. I remember what I was wearing, what the place smelled like. They sear in my memory. What’s harder to see is when I finished the first draft and my kids literally shouted and made me a trophy. What was I wearing? I don’t remember. Or when I sent said MS to a few agents and they eagerly requested fulls (that ended up in eventual rejections later). But that FULL request email should have been the light of my world that day, week, month season….YEAR. Where was I when that happened? What did it smell like?
I don’t know. And that’s the problem. At least for me.
Looking back on this year, what do you see? When you can’t shout LA LA LA LA anymore to avoid thinking about what you didn’t do, what do you see? Failures? Missteps? Lost opportunities?
As one of my dear writing peers said to me once, a wise woman — Brittany Morris, check her out.
She said, “IF YOU GOT HERE ONCE, YOU CAN GET HERE AGAIN.”
Listen, querying writers. Every full request is a success. And remember it. SAVOR IT. Every positive critique, or writing peer that comes alongside you during your journey to support you is a WIN. That’s someone else that believes you can do this crazy thing called writing. And if you got those full requests once, you can and will get there again. Maybe a different story, maybe a different year, but each step is progress toward your goal. Each step gets you closer and the stairs don’t disappear.
When you look back on 2018 focus on the rosebuds, not the weeds. If you got one full request or ten and they all ended in rejections, that doesn’t mean you failed. That means you know how to write a damn good query and some SOLID opening pages. They wanted to read more. THIS. IS. HUGE. So don’t bluster past that moment. Celebrate it. Dance with the kids and the paper trophy. Take a break from chasing the carrot and hell, just be satisfied with that– the request!
And I promise you— when you hone in on every successful step on the path of your writing journey, you’ll find more smooth cement than cracks.
So take your fingers out of your ears and relive the huge leaps you made in 2018 toward your goals. Writing success, at least in my uninformed unprofessional opinion, is not a destination. It’s a journey. You never arrive. You always doubt, always strive to want to do more better. So stop on your journey and sightsee.
Stop the car. Get out the car. Take a few pictures.
Be *present* in YOUR WRITING LIFE. Slow down. Take it all in. Savor *every* bite.
2018 doesn’t taste so bad after all, huh?
So I challenge you to think of some writing thing you did in 2018. Maybe you finished a 1st draft? (There should legit be like congressional medals for that and child birth I’m 100% convinced.) Maybe you found a new story idea you’re bursting at the seams to write. Maybe you inspired someone else to keep writing when they’d all but quit. Maybe you entered Pitch Wars and that scared you half to death but you MADE yourself push to polish and submit. Uhm, thats huge! That’s a win.
I firmly believe, being brave enough to try is 90% of the battle of anything worth doing.
So latch on to something or several somethings that you did this year and I admonish you to hold on to that, to define 2018 by your courage, steadfastness, diligence, or whatever it is. Instead of finishing the year thinking about all the ways you fell short, I challenge you to carry the torch of what you did well into 2019 and continue to build on that progress next year.