Writing is a journey where the goal is usually publication (traditional or otherwise).
What I feel I’ve been guided to appreciate more over the years is the importance of enjoying that journey and seeing the “trip” as a series of steps. The more I write, the more important I see celebrating those steps.
If you can’t handle the small successes in the writing life, how can you manage the bigger ones should they happen? I realise now the small steps are crucial to my development as a writer. They show I am developing!
It has helped me to accept nobody does it all at once. Accepting that point has liberated me from pressurising myself to believe “by the time I’m 50 I must have achieved this or that”. I still don’t know if I’ll ever get my novel published but I know I’ll give it my best shot. If God wants it to happen, it will.
Of course it is great if you do achieve what you set out to do but life (and our faith) is full of surprises, some lovely, others less so. I’ve had to accept matters, writing related or otherwise, may not always work out “my way” and only God sees the overall picture. I may not see where I’m going but He does!
The first step for most, including me, was that wonderful day when the first story has been accepted for publication. In my case it was the fairytale A Helping Hand in Bridge House Publishing’s Alternative Renditions anthology. I wish I could bottle that feeling as I would “uncork” it for those days when post (snail mail and email) are full of rejections.
Accepting rejections are normal and nothing personal has also been liberating. I see rejections now (in the way I couldn’t when I first started) as a wake up call to study the piece again. Can I improve it? Yes, great. No? Okay, taste in writing is subjective. Perhaps I should test the piece elsewhere and see if it can be accepted there.
My rule of thumb is if a piece is turned down three times, it needs a drastic edit and/or putting away for a while. Time away from a piece of work is invaluable in seeing what may be wrong with it.
Other small steps include setting up my websites (which I learned how to do thanks to a wonderful ACW Writers’ Day a few years back). Then there has been learning how to tweet and use Facebook, my first on-line publication and so on. All these things build up. Before you know it, you do have a “proper” writing CV.
Be open to new ideas. I never thought I’d write non-fiction but I love blogging and my regular on-line slot at Chandler’s Ford Today has generated useful feedback and encouragement. My latest small success? Guest blogging for the first time - here at ACW!