A couple of days ago I caught myself trying to do five things at once:

  1. bake scones for a family visit (English scones, the kind you eat with jam)
  2. complete the fancy beading on a princess outfit for a teddy bear
  3. sweep the floor, put away the washing, quickly toddler-proof my living area
  4. write my monthly post for Writer Unboxed
  5. watch Homeland

Am I a multi-tasking superwoman? No, just misguided. Without six hands and a couple of separately functioning brains, there was no way I could do it. I did achieve quite a lot: cleanish house, OK scone result, beading done, TV program watched, visiting toddler did not stick her fingers in any electrical sockets, fall foul of dogs or consume stray beads. But the post didn’t get written. And the To Do list keeps growing – apart from the ‘real life’ tasks, it contains guest blogs, a cover endorsement, a looming copy edit, a proposal for a new series, and two things I really, really want to do and may have to say no to (writing a story for an anthology and preparing a workshop proposal for a convention.) My mind is on a looping message: so much to do, so little time. As a result, I’ve missed something vitally important.

I didn’t allow time to celebrate the release of my new book. Flame of Sevenwaters comes out on November 6 (December 1 for the Australian edition) and I’m doing pretty much nothing to recognise that fact, on a personal level at least. I’m lined up for some guest blogs and interviews (check out my Take Five for WU on November 4) and I have signings coming up at Supanova in Adelaide and possibly in Sydney later in the month. But no book launch; no opportunity to get together with friends, fellow writers and fans to send this sixth and perhaps final instalment of the Sevenwaters saga out into the world with smiles and goodwill.

I stopped work this evening to go outside and watch wispy clouds drifting across a beautiful full moon. I made myself stand out on the grass for a while and enjoy the peace. Reminded myself to slow down sometimes, no matter what the pressure. Congratulated myself on getting the book finished and out there. Imagined how I might have launched this particular story, had I had time to do so. I could have hosted a ‘readers and their dogs’ event at a local park, since as well as embarking (no pun intended) on a truly formidable quest, the protagonist of Flame of Sevenwaters takes in and rehabilitates a pair of feral hounds. Animal rescue is a cause I’m passionate about, and I loved weaving that thread into the story. Or I could have launched the book at the RSPCA kennels and suggested all those attending drop a gold coin into the donation box. Too late for that now. However, on release day I will be at canine obedience training with my dog Harry (himself a rescue), which is pretty appropriate! We might finish off that particular session with a glass of wine and a dog biscuit.

Folks, don’t forget to celebrate your successes. There’s value in a long writing-related To Do list like mine – it’s a sign that people appreciate your work. But if, like me, you are a somewhat driven person, you might also make another list: ways to celebrate. Everything from a huge, extravagant party to the intimate woman-and-dog picnic. And when the time comes, do it. Writing achievements are hard-won. Recognise your own work and your own worth.

How do you celebrate your writing achievements?

Photo credit: Ivan Mikhaylov
Cover art for the Penguin edition of Flame of Sevenwaters is by John Jude Palencar

About Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier has written seventeen novels for adults and young adults as well as a collection of short fiction. Her works of historical fantasy have been published around the world, and have won numerous awards. Her latest release, Raven Flight, is the second book in her Shadowfell series, set in a magical version of ancient Scotland. Juliet has two new releases coming out in 2014: The Caller, third and final book in the Shadowfell series, and Dreamer's Pool, the first novel in a new adult fantasy series, Blackthorn & Grim.