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Savor the Moments

Good morning!  I’m not actually online today.  This week I’m writing these blog posts from the past!

Except for today, because I didn’t actually write this one.  Today’s post was written (also in the past!) by Jon Gibbs, author of the novel Fur-Face, and founder of Find A Writing Group.

Jon also maintains an interesting and useful writing blog, one I’ve been following for a while now.  My thanks to Jon for helping to fill in this week while I’m away.

#

I’ve been a fan of Jim’s writing and blogging skills for a long time, so you can imagine how thrilled I am to be posting an entry here on his blog.  I hope I can justify his confidence in me.

Savor the Moments

A career in writing is not for the faint of heart.  Writers go through a huge amount of negative before they ever get published, and (I suspect) even more of it afterwards. 

Before he/she ever makes that first short story sale, a writer can expect to receive rejection after rejection from editors and slush readers, most of whom offer little or no feedback or encouragement.  Critiques from fellow writers, however well-meaning, tend to focus on what doesn’t work, and though that’s to be expected (it’s the point of them, after all), they too can be a bit of a downer. 

Then there’s a writer’s family and friends.  I’m fortunate in that the people who matter in my life are incredibly patient and supportive about my fiction habit, but many folks aren’t so lucky.  Spend some time around other writers and you’ll hear plenty of stories about family and so-called friends either belittling, or even mocking their efforts.

“If there’s so much negative, why bother?” I hear you ask, as if we could ever stop making up stories.

In truth, many folks do give up.  You may well know some of them.  They got to a point where they couldn’t take the negative anymore, so they told themselves whatever they needed to hear to justify giving up on their dream, and settled for something less.

How can we avoid that same fate?  I can think of three ways, which I’ll offer in reverse order:

#3  Never refer to yourself as ‘unpublished.’
Whether you’ve just started writing, or you’ve been submitting stories and novels for thirty years without a single publishing credit to your name, you’re not ‘unpublished’ you’re a ‘not yet published’ writer, and don’t let anyone tell you different.

#2  Spend time with other writers.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a critique group, a workshop, a conference, or even hanging out with like-minded scribblers online.  So long as those folks aren’t having a pity party, spending time with them will do your confidence the world of good. 

#1  Learn to savor the moments.
“Moments?” you say.  “What moments?  I’ve never even been published.   I’ve never had a moment.”  Oh, you have them all right, but do you stop to enjoy them?  Remember that feeling you get when a new story idea comes to you, or you come up the first few lines of a new project, or print out a finished first draft?  Most other folks could never do those things (though a surprising number seem to believe they could if they only had the time).  Take a few seconds to appreciate that.

Every time you submit a story, take a ‘moment’ to feel proud of yourself.  Heading out to a writing group or some other writerly-type meeting?  When you pull up in the car lot, sit back awhile and savor the feeling of a dream pursued.  

When you get a rejection with a ‘not this time, but please try again,’ make sure you appreciate what that means.  That editor’s telling you he/she liked your writing.  Your story didn’t suck, it just wasn’t right for that publication at that particular time.  Every now and then you’ll get a hand-written note of advice/encouragement (or the email equivalent), sure, it’s still a rejection, but someone thought enough of what they saw to offer you some encouragement.  Set some time aside to enjoy that feeling.

Non-writer might question why any of the above is worth celebrating.  Ignore them.  Taking pleasure in your minor achievements helps you stay positive and fortifies your dream.  That’s always a good thing.

How about you?

What moments will you savor in the coming weeks?

#

Born in England, Jon Gibbs now lives in the USA, where he’s the founder and proud member of The New Jersey Authors’ Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.  His debut novel, Fur-Face (Echelon Press) is available from Amazon.com (Kindle) and in other e-formats at OmniLit.com.

When he’s not chasing around after his three children, Jon can usually be found sitting in front of the computer in his basement office. One day he hopes to figure out how to switch it on.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 46 comments — Leave a comment )
a_r_williams
Jul. 5th, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC)
Good points, Jon. Taking the time to enjoy the small things along the way is important to keep yourself invigorated along the journey.
jongibbs
Jul. 5th, 2010 01:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Aaron. So what will you savor in July?
a_r_williams
Jul. 6th, 2010 10:05 pm (UTC)
Freedom!
tracy_d74
Jul. 5th, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
I am such a celebration person. I celebrate what you've mentioned and good writing days, good names for characters, finding the perfect theme song, helpful feedback from crit/beta readers. With so much negativity around, I figure focusing on the baby steps in the positive direction can really make a difference.
jongibbs
Jul. 5th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I forgot about great character names, they're a definite cause for a celebration.
littlemoremasks
Jul. 5th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
I definitely have a moment to savor this week!
jongibbs
Jul. 5th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
About your podcast?
asakiyume
Jul. 5th, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC)
Dittoing Jon's question!
sartorias
Jul. 5th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
Awesome suggestions whether you are published or not!
jongibbs
Jul. 5th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
peachette48
Jul. 5th, 2010 04:08 pm (UTC)
I'm hearing Mick Jagger singing about his lack of satisfaction and realized that if one takes the time to appreciate these little moments of success, it can make the wait to be published much more tolerable.
What an upbeat blog!
Attaboy!
jongibbs
Jul. 5th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
Sadly, for all too many folks, the journey's not going to take us where we want to go, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy ourselves along the way, right?
peachette48
Jul. 5th, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
I am convinced that if the talent is there and the stories are there and they are well written, they will find a home.
Giving up is the problem. Give up and you never, ever know.

Then again, "published posthumously" isn't that great a thrill, either....
msstacy13
Jul. 5th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)
As Cather liked to say, The Road is All.
And as I like to say,
The snake is having fun.
Whatever the situation,
we can choose to be a participant in events,
rather than a victim of circumstances.
silverton
Jul. 5th, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)
What a great post! It's such a wonderful feeling when things just come together right. There are always days when I feel like a writing failure, but I have to keep thinking about how far I've come and not how much further I still have.
jongibbs
Jul. 5th, 2010 05:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Stephanie. We all feel like a failure from time to time, but we also have success to enjoy, however unimportant they might seem to a non-writer.
bogwitch64
Jul. 5th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC)
A positive post from a positive man. Nice one, Jon. Advice EVERYONE can use. Whether they do or not is up to them.

I had a 'savor the moment' moment this morning. Eric sent me a podcast of an interview he did last week, wherein he talks about lots of stuff Hadley Rille, including a certain book he's publishing and launching at WFC this year. It was quite squee-worthy!
jongibbs
Jul. 5th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)
You mean he's publishing another book at the same time as Finder? ;)
bogwitch64
Jul. 5th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
What's Finder?
:-P
dr_phil_physics
Jul. 5th, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
Absolutely agree about savoring small victories. When I started submitting, I figured I would score the results as Wins-Losses. And then my second result was a contest canceled due to lack of entries -- and I realized I had to score Wins-Losses-NoCalls. (grin)

On my 35th result, I got a rejection letter which included the line "I rather like your style of writing and suggest that you try us again." And I realized that I had to score an Encouraging Letter as a Win.

Scoring is complicated, even when you're up to 14 publications and nearly 300 rejections. (double-word-score-grin)

Dr. Phil
jongibbs
Jul. 5th, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC)
As my old gran so often pointed out, I get confused easilly, so if I was going to keep count, I'd just have a published/not published score card with each completed story/novel on it. I think the ratio of wins to losses would be much less depressing.

Thanks for sharing :)
asakiyume
Jul. 5th, 2010 05:51 pm (UTC)
I really enjoy your blog posts, Jon. You always have encouraging, interesting, but also realistic things to say, and always with a lighthearted touch :-)

I savor hanging out with you guys, I guess.

But a more particular writing thing? I savor when I get a rejection and the editor says something encouraging and personal. I know some people hate those, but I like them still.
msstacy13
Jul. 5th, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
I hate the ones that say,
"Sorry say no."
I want to march right over to them and yell,
"Don't be sorry, say yes!"
:)

The single best hand-written rejection note I ever received said,
"We came close to publishing this story.
 It touched off more discussion than we've ever had before in our office."
jongibbs
Jul. 5th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Francesca :)

I'm with you on the encouraging rejections. I've had a couple of very kind 'Close, but no cigar' letters from agents who took the time to say what they liked (and didn't like), and invite me to send them something else.

While disappointing, they made me feel like I was at least headed in the right direction.
msstacy13
Jul. 5th, 2010 06:28 pm (UTC)
#3 - I can't argue with that.
Although writing some really good stories
and self-publishing them allows a writer to say
"published" without any prefix.
And if they get five-star reviews from people who've actually bought them,
so much the better.

#2 - But bear in mind that we do not soar with eagles
while roosting with turkeys.
  • BTW, A habit I developed in studio was to give criticism first,
    then praise. Taking that approach
    will condition your group members to accept and appreciate criticism.

    #1 - As Ferris Beuller said,
    "If you don't stop and look around once in while,
     you might miss something."

    Although there ~is~ that scene in Bull Durham
    "The moment's over!"
    you should probably take more than a few seconds
    to savor those moments.
    In fact, the mental equivilent of
    pressed flowers in a scrapbook
    is well worth while.
  • jongibbs
    Jul. 5th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC)
    I know what you mean about roosting with the turkeys, but so far, most writers I've 'met' have made the journey more interesting and a lot more fun :)
    msstacy13
    Jul. 5th, 2010 07:08 pm (UTC)
    I'd gotten that impression, yes.

    I guess I meant what I'd said as a general guideline
    for aspring writers seeking a Writers' Group;
    similar to what you said--was that last week?--
    about writing what they know...
    barry_king
    Jul. 5th, 2010 06:29 pm (UTC)
    Savor? That moment when one of your characters gives you an insight into you, or another, or into these curious creatures called humans. Something that wakes you up out of your self, something you'd never have thought or felt or done. Something that makes you say, "oh, wow."

    And then sharing that with someone else; your SO, your writing group, or your readership. And hearing them say the "oh, wow." right back.

    Yeah. That.
    jongibbs
    Jul. 5th, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
    Good feedback = :)
    phoenixfirewolf
    Jul. 5th, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC)
    Excellent advice Jon. Thank you for sharing that. The road to publication is a frustrating one. I'm not yet published but I will be :)

    In the next few weeks I will get to savor putting the words "The End" on the first draft of my current WIP.
    jongibbs
    Jul. 5th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
    That's a lovely feeling :)
    phoenixfirewolf
    Jul. 5th, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC)
    It really is. Going through the "final" polish and finishing that up is a really good feeling too.
    writerjenn
    Jul. 5th, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC)
    I'm sure your blog posts provide many people with that supportive community in #2!
    jongibbs
    Jul. 5th, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC)
    So you're saying my blog posts are #2?

    Somewhere, my old gran is nodding :P
    writerjenn
    Jul. 6th, 2010 12:48 am (UTC)
    Item #2 on your numbered list! We hardly need a supportive community for the other #2 ...
    jongibbs
    Jul. 6th, 2010 05:49 am (UTC)
    Lol, I certainly hope not, anyway :)
    bondo_ba
    Jul. 5th, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
    As always, Jon, the advice is spot-on. The moments are the reason we started writing in the first place!
    jongibbs
    Jul. 5th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
    Lol, let's face it, if we're in it for the money, there'll be some disappointed people about :)
    sixteenbynine
    Jul. 5th, 2010 09:57 pm (UTC)
    A hard question: What's the difference between savoring a moment and just patting yourself on the back? What makes the former constructive and the latter merely self-congratulatory?
    jongibbs
    Jul. 5th, 2010 10:08 pm (UTC)
    I think savoring the moment is more about feeling good about chasing your dream rather than about a specific task completed.

    How would you differentiate the two?
    sixteenbynine
    Jul. 5th, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
    I think I can cite examples of each from my own purview.

    I'm a self-published author. I do the bulk of my sales at conventions, where I generally sell about 15-20 books at a time. Not NY Times bestseller list numbers, but a) I have a great time, and b) the trips pay for themselves and I generally either break even or walk out with a small profit.

    I get a great feeling whenever I not only sell a book but make a connection with the person doing the purchasing. The way I put this, not all that jokingly, is "I don't have a lot of fans but I know most of them by their first names, and almost none of them are family or originally friends of mine."

    It's more of a back-patting sort of thing when I don't follow up each savored achievement with a goal. Okay, what's next? How much higher am I going to aim? A while back, this was nothing more than just following up my last book with a new one. Now, this is taking the form of developing material that will appeal to a much broader readership than just the fandoms I've been able to get good results with. Eventually, it'll mean marketing that material to a fullscale publisher, who will be able to do far more marketing the thing than I can on my own.

    So, for me, it's great to have that feeling of chasing your dream -- but it needs to be accompanied by, or inspire, a sense of how to chase that dream all the more constructively. The next step up.
    jongibbs
    Jul. 6th, 2010 05:55 am (UTC)
    It sounds like you have plenty of both :)
    ckastens
    Jul. 6th, 2010 12:12 am (UTC)
    Great post, Jon. I've said it many times as well, it's very important to celebrate the good moments. Otherwise, it's just toiling away.
    jongibbs
    Jul. 6th, 2010 05:53 am (UTC)
    Thanks, Christopher. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)
    rachelblaze
    Jul. 6th, 2010 02:02 am (UTC)
    lovely post jon hope you had a great memorable weekend
    San Diego Attorney Internet Marketing
    jongibbs
    Jul. 6th, 2010 05:53 am (UTC)
    Thanks, Rachel, and yes I did, but not in a 'Let's do that again sometime' kind of way.

    The fridge died on July 4th, and yesterday morning, the upstairs air conditioning packed in. It was a delightful 90 degrees when we went to bed :(
    ( 46 comments — Leave a comment )

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