I hear a lot of “what if” and “if only” and “If I could just” and “So and So has what I want!” I’m not immune to it, but I am growing ever more Aware of it. Circuitous thinking, round and round it goes, endless. We don’t remember wishing for that something because when we reached that goal, we were already circling to find the next thing, and that for which we wished for prior has already been left behind. I like goals; I’m competitive. But dang it! When do we celebrate? Where’s the WHAHOOO! . . . ?
Here’s what I imagined would happen when I received word that my first novel Tender Graces (and guess what? I never liked that title! ha! Now I said it! I wanted Mountain in the title; yeah, strong and mountain and kin. Like the Russian version they titled “Above the Mountain is Light” by Katherine Madzhendi, and there’s Mad in my Russianized name! haha! Er, where was I? oh yeah: here’s what I thought would happen when I received word my novel) would be published: I’d jump up, scream WHAHOOO!, hug anyone who happened to be around, email gamillions of people, yell N’YA N’YA N’YA N’YA N’YA I TOLD YOU SO! to those who said, “How’s that hobby, you know, that cute writing hobby you got going there? Still plugging along? *knowing looks abound* . . .” and then go celebrate with Ketel One over ice with a tiny sliver of lime.
Here is what really happened: I’m sitting alone in the dark. I’m sipping very strong black French Roast, the sun just slipping over the Smoky Mountains. I read the email of how the wonderful Bellebooks/Bell Bridge Books (Thank You, Bellebooks!) wants to offer me a contract. There is no sound but my old dog’s snoring. I stand, walk dazed around the little log house, and it is hours and hours later before I tell anyone—because I might jinx it. Because it may not be Real. Because something will happen to screw it up. Because they will publish me and five people will buy my book and they’ll regret they published me. And so on and so forth, blah diddity blah blah blah. Nothing new here, yammer yammer.
And in a blink of a flea’s eyelash WHOOOSH!, the first novel becomes the second, then third, and soon a novella, and fourth novel, and fifth. Have I done any real celebrating? I guess not. And I’ve let slip more than 4 years since that last novel, what with just over 4 years ago two incomes becomes All Me Income and writing feels more a luxury she can’t afford and she’s okay with that, sure she is; she doesn’t miss the long hours writing so she can instead work work work to pay her mortgage and bills; she had her moments of writing writing writing writing and writing WRITING WRITING WRITING WRITING, and now she must Not Writing. Oh Terrible Angst and Woe! Well, my sweet lil log house is, also, worth sacrificing something precious, even when it sucks to sacrifice. (But really, yes, it is rather sad, don’t you think? The lost books I still need to find? If I could catch my financial breath?)
It all feels as if it were some dream. That some other woman sat in this very room and tippity tapped her fingers over the keys and out spilled hundreds of thousands of words that were bound between a front cover and a back cover and it’s all MAGIC! Right? Magical hard damned work of which I am damned proud.
Do I miss the “luxury” of writing full time, most of the time, any time-tic-toc-time? Would you miss your left arm if it suddenly disappeared? (And if you don’t have a left arm, I’m sorry.)
Right now, I stop, look over my right shoulder, and nope, not a dream at all of course; there they are, my (so-far) Life’s Work shining out. At one time, I received some decent monetary gains from these books, and though I still receive royalties, they really are becoming really super-duper teeny tiny; *teehee!*
I need to celebrate what I see over my right shoulder!
Hold on, I’m going to jump up and yell AWOOOOOO! Okay, I’m back . . . thanks, whew, I needed that celebratory howl for what I have accomplished. Now you celebrate your accomplishments, and don’t sit here and tell me you do not have any! Let’s hear it: I accomplished *fill in blank* and I’m going to celebrate it!
Toast with some bubbly champagne (yeah, I said that like “sham-pag-nee” so I could remember how to spell it), hug yourself really hard, or hug someone and let them hug you back, eat something decadent. Do a dance of joy. Yell WHAAHOOO! or howl if you like. Come on! Right now! I’ll wait . . . *Jeopardy music here*
Anyone who writes knows the long, hard, frustrating, maddening journey, and knows the work has only just begun once one writes The End. The tweaking, the querying, the rejections, and then finally the hoped-for acceptance, or perhaps the decision to self-publish, are only parts of the complete package that make the word Author, or, gulp, Successful Author (whatever that is!). Sure, there are “overnight successes” who push out a book in three days and it’s picked up by a big time publisher and hits the New York Times bestseller list two minutes later and movie rights come, and zillions of people go see it and then buy the book for all their zillion friends, and the author is soon rolling buck-nekkid on his/her bed atop a pile of cash. In reality, most “overnight successes” have worked their asses off to make their dreams come true. (I’m secretly wishing to be rolling buck-nekkid on a pile of cash *teeheehee* except that sounds kind of gross and dirty-nasty and not dirty-nasty in a sexy way but in a yucky way . . . .)
Yet. Here we are where we are and where we are is the culmination of all this hard work and sacrifice. I acknowledge you and your accomplishments because I know the bumpy-assed road we travel on the way to the unknown.
Every itty bitty step towards a goal should be acknowledged, and every Goal Accomplished should be celebrated. *Raising my jittery-shaky-handed-coffee cup to you*
So will you first acknowledge, and then celebrate, your successes? Right now? How?