I wanted to diverge from my fairly recent maudlin Twitter postings about my agent query rejections. And having celebrated a small thing last night(number five below), I thought maybe I might make a short list of things to celebrate when you’re a writer that aren’t the biggies.
1. Attempting to write your first book.
Yes, this, absolutely. I couldn’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I have the perfect idea for a book,” from people who have never even tried to write one. I often reply with, “You should try and write that!” Sometimes I’m internally cringing at the thought of the idea actually getting into print and becoming a bestseller. But if you have begun this process, celebrate it!
2. Finishing your first book.
This one? This one is huge. There is a feeling you get when you step away from a finished work in progress that is unrivaled. And that first time? That one is so ridiculously special. I couldn’t believe it actually happened. I was nineteen when it first happened for me and, though the work was utter crap, I was so excited.
3. Finishing any subsequent book.
The odds of you writing a first novel are slim and fraught with difficulty even with things like NaNoWriMo in overdrive. But then, assuming it’s February and there are no contests and no plans but all of a sudden a book just comes tumbling out of you? Congratulations. That’s awesome and you should be happy about that.
4. Writing a sequel.
Writing a sequel is a peculiar gift because chaining it to another work means you will always be able to compare it to the original. You’ll also be able to enjoy the relish of moving inside a whole universe beyond one book.
5. Finishing a trilogy.
If you successfully wrote a book, a sequel, and then wrapped up a whole world in three books? That’s freaking amazing! I recently crossed this threshold for the first time and realized how big of a deal it was for me that I never realized.
This might seem out of order but this is a step that’s difficult and not one everyone does. Bonus points for taking and using their feedback to craft a better work.
7. Writing outside your “comfort genre”.
Being able to move from literary fiction to science fiction or from YA to adult thriller can be more daunting than any of these. If you have done it, give yourself five.
I wrote all of these because my friends, family, and even my beta readers have tried to give me encouragement in this area and I thought I might pass it on to you. We writers can talk a big game about our query thickened skins or our number of years in our craft. Sometimes, though, we need to remember what an accomplishment it is to do what we might consider the “small stuff.” We tend to think in terms of securing representation or publication as the only things worth celebrating but that’s not true.
Do you have anything you might add to this list?