Saturday, August 2, 2014

On Celebrating EVERY Writing Accomplishment (or Bigger Isn't Always Better)

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As online social media sites have moved from MySpace to FaceBook to Twitter to Tumblr, I am still a loyal reader and user of LiveJournal. I post all of my book reviews here and enjoy reading the occasional posts by other stalwart LJ users, such as author and poet Kelly Fineman.

Last month Kelly wrote two posts that made me think. The first was about how she had good news to share; three of her poems had been accepted into two publications. I commented that it was fantastic and every little piece of writing news is something to celebrate when you are a talented, driven writer! Kelly replied that yes, it is good to remember to celebrate and share every achievement, no matter how small.

The second was a post called "Why is it so hard to own the good stuff?" and it truly spoke to me and made me start thinking about writing a post of my own, where I knew I'd link to Kelly's post because she is such an eloquent writer. Go ahead, read Kelly's post now. I'll wait. :)

I've been a writer all my life, but I first began writing with the idea toward publication (YA novels) in 2004, the summer after I finished my MLS and fell in live with YA lit in the YA Materials class. By 2006, I had three manuscripts and was sure that after a couple of years, I would have a YA novel on store shelves. Why wouldn't I? I was reading a ton, writing a ton, had a critique group, started up this group blog, went to conferences, knew how to edit and revise, took an online class, researched the market, signed with my first agent in 2008, kept writing more books, my crit/blog partners got book deals....

Um, yeah. And here I am now 10 years later without a book deal.

I am not writing this for pity or because I am fishing for encouraging remarks!

I AM writing this because, holy crap, I have accomplished a LOT in 10 years in the writing arena and these things need to be celebrated:

  • April 2011 -- Accepted as a VOYA reviewer; 1-2 of my YA book reviews are published monthly in this national professional librarian journal
  • July 2013 -- Self-published my YA ebook BLACKOUT and created a book trailer*
  • January 2014 -- Hired as a freelance Rochester & Genesee Valley Parent Magazine Book Nook writer; 1 article per month of kidlit book reviews is published in this local free Rochester-area magazine
  • July 2014 -- Self-published my YA ebook DESERTED and created a book trailer*
* To date, I have sold approximately 135 copies of my books, which is about 130 more readers than I would've had if I hadn't epubbed. Woo hoo!

So basically since spring 2011, I've had something professionally published every month, and since 2014 I've had at least two publications released per month. And you know what? That's pretty freakin' cool! I LOVE writing book reviews and while yes, they do take away time from writing my own fiction, there is a certain satisfaction in knowing they will be seen in print. Plus the librarian in me adores gushing about good books and telling people what to read. :)

Other cool things?
  • I have a fantastic agent who is working hard with me to polish my next MG novel. We are, of course, hoping the one on sub will sell, but either way it is exciting and motivating to have someone enthusiastic in my court with great ideas for making my books the best they can be. Also, she is a talented author herself so I know she "gets" revision and the work it takes to make your book baby solid for submission, from both sides of the business.
  • I have a fantastic core of talented writers who critique and edit my work, both online and in-person. I would not be where I am today without the years of input they have given me. I never take them for granted.
I do not plan to ever stop working toward traditional publication or self-pubbing ebooks at this point in my life, and I'm sure if/when I do get that elusive book deal, I will be ecstatic. 

But I also know that realistically, after the initial push, printing, and distribution of that one book, I will still need to write another and another and another. Not only to sustain a writing career, but because I have stories to tell. And one month, two months, three months after the book comes out, to the general population it will just be another book on the shelf at the library/store/house. Does that mean that the book and the accomplishment and hard work it represents still shouldn't be celebrated just because it is not "new" anymore?

I say no. I mean yes. I mean: Continue to relish that accomplishment and also celebrate all the small goals reached on the way to the next book deal or journal publication or poem completion or query letter sent. Because book deals and the publications of said books are too few and far between to be the only thing writers are celebrating.

As longtime A2A reader and awesome YA author Jenn Hubbard said in Kelly's comments:

"We're stopping to smell the roses, instead of saying that they're small roses or thorny roses or there could be more of them. They smell sweet."


Now excuse me while I finish up the October monster-themed Book Nook for Rochester & Genesee Valley Parent Magazine. :-D

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing


Leandra Wallace said...

This is a great reminder to enjoy the journey, instead of constantly looking ahead, waiting until we arrive at that book announcement moment. I'm querying my second book and when I sometimes get discouraged I remember all the fun writing things I've been doing lately- blogging about books and writing, interacting w/my CPs, joining a live critique group meeting, going to my first conference this year, etc. And congrats on your second ebook coming out! =)

DeenaML said...

Leandra, YES! Every part of the writing and seeking publication process that you enjoy IS a success because you made it happen. So glad you made it to your first conference! I am going to YALSA in November this year, but would love to find an SCBWI event to attend as well (missed the ones this summer due to other life stuff). Thanks for reading and commenting.

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