Good morning! I’m not actually online today. This week I’m writing these blog posts from the past!
Jon also maintains an interesting and useful writing blog, one I’ve been following for a while now. My thanks to Jon for helping to fill in this week while I’m away.
I’ve been a fan of Jim’s writing and blogging skills for a long time, so you can imagine how thrilled I am to be posting an entry here on his blog. I hope I can justify his confidence in me.
Savor the Moments
A career in writing is not for the faint of heart. Writers go through a huge amount of negative before they ever get published, and (I suspect) even more of it afterwards.
Before he/she ever makes that first short story sale, a writer can expect to receive rejection after rejection from editors and slush readers, most of whom offer little or no feedback or encouragement. Critiques from fellow writers, however well-meaning, tend to focus on what doesn’t work, and though that’s to be expected (it’s the point of them, after all), they too can be a bit of a downer.
Then there’s a writer’s family and friends. I’m fortunate in that the people who matter in my life are incredibly patient and supportive about my fiction habit, but many folks aren’t so lucky. Spend some time around other writers and you’ll hear plenty of stories about family and so-called friends either belittling, or even mocking their efforts.
“If there’s so much negative, why bother?” I hear you ask, as if we could ever stop making up stories.
In truth, many folks do give up. You may well know some of them. They got to a point where they couldn’t take the negative anymore, so they told themselves whatever they needed to hear to justify giving up on their dream, and settled for something less.
How can we avoid that same fate? I can think of three ways, which I’ll offer in reverse order:
#3 Never refer to yourself as ‘unpublished.’
Whether you’ve just started writing, or you’ve been submitting stories and novels for thirty years without a single publishing credit to your name, you’re not ‘unpublished’ you’re a ‘not yet published’ writer, and don’t let anyone tell you different.
#2 Spend time with other writers.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a critique group, a workshop, a conference, or even hanging out with like-minded scribblers online. So long as those folks aren’t having a pity party, spending time with them will do your confidence the world of good.
#1 Learn to savor the moments.
“Moments?” you say. “What moments? I’ve never even been published. I’ve never had a moment.” Oh, you have them all right, but do you stop to enjoy them? Remember that feeling you get when a new story idea comes to you, or you come up the first few lines of a new project, or print out a finished first draft? Most other folks could never do those things (though a surprising number seem to believe they could if they only had the time). Take a few seconds to appreciate that.
Every time you submit a story, take a ‘moment’ to feel proud of yourself. Heading out to a writing group or some other writerly-type meeting? When you pull up in the car lot, sit back awhile and savor the feeling of a dream pursued.
When you get a rejection with a ‘not this time, but please try again,’ make sure you appreciate what that means. That editor’s telling you he/she liked your writing. Your story didn’t suck, it just wasn’t right for that publication at that particular time. Every now and then you’ll get a hand-written note of advice/encouragement (or the email equivalent), sure, it’s still a rejection, but someone thought enough of what they saw to offer you some encouragement. Set some time aside to enjoy that feeling.
Non-writer might question why any of the above is worth celebrating. Ignore them. Taking pleasure in your minor achievements helps you stay positive and fortifies your dream. That’s always a good thing.
How about you?
What moments will you savor in the coming weeks?
Born in England, Jon Gibbs now lives in the USA, where he’s the founder and proud member of The New Jersey Authors’ Network and FindAWritingGroup.com. His debut novel, Fur-Face (Echelon Press) is available from Amazon.com (Kindle) and in other e-formats at OmniLit.com.
When he’s not chasing around after his three children, Jon can usually be found sitting in front of the computer in his basement office. One day he hopes to figure out how to switch it on.