07 January 2012

These Laurels Are Kinda Pointy

I’m going to poke at a little troll with this post. It will seem that I’m jumping ahead in the process, but it really effects everyone at every stage of the writing process. We’ll examine this problem from my stage in the writing career, though it’s caught me at other times as well. This happens when a major milestone in a writing career becomes a reality.

For me, right now, it’s about my first publication.
Others times I’ve stumbled like this: First completed story, first completed novel, first time I sent out a story for publication, first rejection slip… Well, you should see a pattern by now.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t bask in the glow of you accomplishment. Far from it. Enjoy your spotlight, when it shines on you, for it will be a small and fleeting window.
I simply want to suggest that you not stop the creative process completely while you bask.
Think about this: Stephen King sells his first story. He’s so happy with accomplishment that he never writes another story. Some people might consider this a “Good Thing”™. Others, not so much.
Take a day, two, at most a week, then get back to those stories that call your name. Don’t let ideas languish too long, lest you lose your momentum from the accomplishment.
From my standpoint, let me show you where this causes problems. In an effort to get something out there for the end of the year, I sent a short story to a local community college literary magazine. I expected another rejection as that was all the story had received. Ten of them and counting by that point. Imagine my shock at the email saying that they decided to publish it. That came late November. Through most of December, I didn’t send any other story out. I wrote, but nothing extensive to complete a story. It felt more like puttering around with words. When the holidays struck, that put me farther behind.
Now, a new calendar is on my wall. It’s time for me to press ahead for my second publication. Hopefully, with a check this time. However, I keep looking back at that acceptance letter as it glows from the folder. Instead of dwelling, I need to tell myself that the letter is lonely in the folder by itself.
So if you took time to enjoy your success, don’t take too long. Press forward.

Go. Write. Revise. Publish.

And come back again, because I enjoy our visits.

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